There has been a lot of excitement around the new ‘Britannia’ this week as P&O Cruises hosted a launch event giving the press and selected travel partners the opportunity to experience what life will be like on board and they revealed the line-up of some of Britain’s leading chefs to feature on board.
Also revealed was the eagerly anticipated itineraries and fares with the chance to pre-register and beat the crowds! Click here to view the cruises >
Two days later I was invited to join Britannia’s Float Out ceremony at the Monfalcone shipyard in Trieste. I was excited to see the progress from my last visit to the shipyard in May 2013 at the Keel Laying ceremony.
A Float Out celebrates a significant stage of the construction of a ship, a stage where it is now 100% structurally complete and it can be entered into the water for the very first time.
So, on a very wet and windy morning on Friday 14 February 2014 I joined our group at Farnborough airport where we were given a sneak preview of the official video of Wednesday’s launch event, which sparked a real buzz around the room as we could see the whole picture coming together.
At the shipyard we were met by some of Fincantieri’s officials, shipyard workers, photographers and film crew.
The sun was shining as the ceremony commenced at 12.45 hours. As a symbol of good fortune commemorative coins from both countries were welded to one of the open decks to bless the ship.
The main ceremony began with Shipyard Director Mr Attilio Dapelo making a speech, before Carnival UK’s Chief Commercial Officer Gerard Tempest took to the stage to make a rather impressive speech in both Italian and English, where he thanked the shipyard workers for their extremely hard work and incredible progress, as well as re-emphasising the positive effect this new ship will have on the British market.
The 3,650-passenger ship will enter service in mid-March 2015 and increase P&O Cruises’ capacity by 24%.
A priest then blessed the construction of Brtiannia before both the Italian and British national anthems played, during which the Italian shipyard workers hugged one another in a display of pride and accomplishment.
It’s incredible to see the transformation in just the 9 months since my last visit where I witnessed the very first block being laid into the dock – now I was standing in front of a fully constructed 141,000-tonne cruise ship!
Another Italian tradition is for the ships’ ‘Madrina’ to cut the cord, releasing a bottle of Prosecco against the ships’ hull.
The Madrina for Britannia was Louise Hunt, a Travel Councellor selected by P&O Cruises for this prestigious role in a travel trade competition.
After being invited to the stage by Mr Dapelo, Louise was handed an axe and dutifully cut the cord to a round of applause.
After the ships’ horn sounded, the valves were finally opened as Britannia met the water for the very first time.
It was a momentous occasion as we all ran to the side of the dock to see water gushing in.
The dock would take approximately 20 hours to completely fill.
We raised a toast to Britannia over a light lunch and this gave us the opportunity to chat with other partners involved with the new build and we talked about what the next stage will be.
Terry McGillycuddy, Director of the seriously stylish designers Richmond International who are repsonsible for the entire interior design of Britannia was also present.
It’s clear from the launch event in London that he and his team have been working tirelessly to combine the heritage of P&O Cruises with the sophistication of a leading five-star hotel, and the results promise to be outstanding.
From wallpaper to glittering marble floors and stunning chandeliers, the décor is sure to make Britannia the most glamorous ship ever built for the British market.
“Britannia will be a market-leading ship for a market-leading brand when she makes her debut in spring 2015. We wanted her to become a modern classic with the core of P&O Cruises heritage augmented by the latest contemporary design.” Said Gerard Tempest at the float out.
“Today is a landmark event for P&O Cruises and for the British cruise industry and is the start of a new chapter in our future.”
This was definitely a Valentine’s day to remember! Britannia’s Maiden Season looks set to be a real celebration next year and one I’m immensely excited to be a part of.