The time was 1pm and the date was 15 May 2013. The location was Monfalcone shipyard close to Trieste, Italy and the occasion was the first milestone in the construction of a ship that will become the largest designed vessel specifically for the British market. This milestone was the laying of the ships keel, a significant moment in the lifetime of all cruise ships but this one was special. The keel laying ceremony is the point where a concept and design begins to take shape and become reality. For P&O Cruises this was a wonderful event as it would be the starting point of construction for their brand new cruise ship, set to set the UK industry alive once more and unveil innovations to truly inspire.
The word on the grapevine was that P&O Cruises had developed the idea of creating a “modern classic”, something that would pay tribute to the heritage and history of the world renowned cruise line whilst also tipping its cap to the future and taking this phenomenal company into a new era. Speculation has been rife over what features the new ship would boast but the main topic of discussion, especially over recent months, has been what name P&O Cruises would choose to encapsulate the collective idea behind the creation of this new ship. There were many suggestions, including the possibility of rekindling a previously popular name such as the hugely popular Canberra but at 9.30am this morning, the cruise line finally lifted the lid on the title of their new pride and joy. Cue the line “Cool” Britannia rules the waves. This was the phrase chosen to lead into the announcement and it is one that has been received with great applause.
P&O Cruises clearly wanted to make a statement with the title of this new vessel and in choosing Britannia, they have certainly done so. Not only have they paid a treasurable homage to their past but also to the future and they have done all of this whilst also emphasising the true, quintessential British spirit of the cruise line. P&O Cruises has been a key name in British heritage for over 175 years, growing from strength to strength to become one of the major brands of Britain. The term “Cool Britannia” has been installed as a clever play on words to both provoke thought towards the ever loved “Rule Britannia” and to acknowledge the contemporary themes that will flow throughout the new ships design to ultimately reflect the aspirations of the modern day Britain. P&O Cruises & Carnival UK chief executive officer David Dingle stated that “Ours is a country which is rediscovering its excitement and optimism, a country of new-found sophistication in everything from architecture and music to fashion to food, and a confident country – for this is Britain of the Olympics, Andy Murray, the Ashes and the Lions. Our new ship too will be about excitement, optimism, sophistication and confidence, celebrating the Britain of today and tomorrow. At the same time she will reflect the great heritage and enduring values of P&O Cruises, most particularly our reputation for doing things properly and authentically, and providing safety and reliability at sea.”
Of course, these are not the only reasons this ship has been chosen. Britannia still meets many passengers’ preferences that a famous name be in lights once again. It may not be Canberra but we genuinely believe this is even better. After all the name Britannia has been associated with P&O Cruises once before. The first ever ship to sail under the name of Britannia entered service in the year 1835 and sailed under the banner of the company from which P&O was created. There has, however, also been another. The second Britannia vessel was constructed purposely to play a role in the celebrations of the 1887 Golden Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria. A total of four ships were built for this occasion and Britannia was one of them, alongside, intriguingly the three other ships named Arcadia, Oceana and Victoria, starting to see the theme? P&O Cruises seem to have been looking for a way of bringing back this name to life as they have the other titles of that time and the new ship is the perfect choice. Winston Churchill even sailed aboard that Britannia in 1888 when heading to India alongside his hussar regiment. David Dingle went onto say that “just as the name Britannia has an iconic past for our company, our new Britannia will be an icon for the future and for our success.”
At the keel laying ceremony on that day that seems oh so long ago, Dingle said “our new ship will anticipate the subtly changing trends in what British passengers expect from their cruise holiday. We cannot wait to see this ship finished and underway”. How right he was, as Britannia is starting to take shape and becoming a spectacular reality.
Now to the design and an extraordinary yet inspirational idea from P&O Cruises. It is common with new ship designs that a cruise line draws expertise from numerous sources to fine tune the balance and tones of the vessels interior. P&O Cruises however have chosen not to do this and have instead gone down the line of one company and one alone. For Britannia, the cruise line have employed world renowned Richmond International. With all the planning and effort going into coming up with the perfect name it was just as important to find the right company to put that concept in place on board, bringing it to life. Richmond are responsible for many superb design works around the world including the stunning Sandy Lane resort in Barbados injecting style into a wide range of five star hotels. As far as design credentials go, Richmond International are second to none, exactly what P&O Cruises needed to launch their new arrival. Britannia is all set to wow every guest that steps on board with focus being placed purely on developing imaginative interiors with exceptional flair.
The sheer spectacle of Britannia’s arrival to the P&O Cruises fleet requires a crew to match and the cruise line have put the main role in the hands of Captain Paul Brown. Captain Brown will be at the helm of the 141,000 tonne vessel and based on his wide spread experience, he is an excellent choice. Having joined the fleet in 1996, Captain Brown held numerous positions under the P&O banner before being promoted to captain in 2007 when taking charge of Aurora. He has since gone on to captain Artemis, Oriana, Ventura and Azura. He is currently on board Ventura but is now on hand regularly to monitor the progress of the new ship. Captain Brown will be joined by Captain David Pembridge in leading the shipboard team as well as being supported by deputy captains Martin Allen and Hamish Sunter. The executive purser’s roles will be held by Darljit Sharma and Keith de la Mare.
Britannia will arrive in spring 2015 and will be the largest ship built for the British market. She will therefore represent the very best of the best and will combine signature P&O features with pioneering innovations in dining, entertainment and modern design. She will feature cutting-edge technology that will make her the “greenest” ship ever for P&O Cruises. Her hull form design is just one example as it is set to reduce fuel consumption by up to an impressive 20%.
David Dingle continued by stating “Britannia will underpin P&O Cruises’ unique commitment to building ships specifically designed to anticipate the tastes of today’s Britain,” Dingle said. “It will be a modern classic, a ship for this and future generations.”
Whilst very few confirmed details of the ships on board facilities have been released at this stage, it has been stated that she will feature the much loved forward facing Crow’s Nest Bar, a venue that is hugely popular on ships such as Oriana and Aurora. Britannia will also boast an enhanced Glasshouse Bar, a venue that was originally developed on board Azura but has been so well received that it has since been added to Ventura following her recent refurbishment. She will provide passengers with the largest spa in the entire fleet, a venue that is certain to provide a unique wow factor and she will also be a highly attractive ship for single passengers. It is a regular occurrence for single passengers to wish more was being done to cater for their needs and P&O have taken a step towards doing that thanks to the announcement that Britannia will have more single cabins on board than any other ship as well as offering purpose built single cabins with balconies.
We await the news on dining options, with it being confirmed that there will be no less than 13 different venues to choose from on board. Dingle confirmed that the cruise line will continue to maintain its relationship with personalities within the public eye saying, “we will continue our relationship with celebrity chefs including Atul Kocchar and we will be adding to the chefs’ team. We will reveal more signatures in the final stages of development.”
For now, we have the name and we have teasing messages of what to expect but for further information we must wait. We will bring you all the news as it unfolds.
Watch a video clip showcasing an artist’s impression of what the Britannia will look like when complete and taking to the seas.