The Queen has arrived today (10 March 2015) in Southampton to officially name the newest ship in the P&O fleet, the Britannia. In a suitably British affair, Her Majesty The Queen will name the ship which is set to become the largest cruise vessel dedicated to serving Britain’s cruise industry. The £500m ship is being named in a ceremony stating at about midday, becoming the fifth cruise ship the Queen has named in her life.
P&O Cruises and the Queen have history after Her Majesty named the P&O Oriana in 1995 and members of her family have named other members of the fleet over the decades. Additionally, the ship shares a name with the Queen’s former Royal Yacht which served her for more than half a century before being decommissioned in 1997.
The honour of guiding the Queen during the naming ceremony falls to the captain of the ship, Paul Brown: “It is my great honour after 33 years at sea to show the Queen around. I will be showing her the atrium and the bridge then heading down to the restaurant for lunch.”
The ship will be based out of Southampton during her first summer on the seas, making trips throughout the Mediterranean and Atlantic and through the Norwegian Fjords before relocating to the Caribbean for the winter. It is predicted that the ship will significantly boost the cruise industry of the UK and the local economy.
Stewart Dunn, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, enthused: “It is great that Britannia will be based in Southampton. There was a survey a few years ago which showed that every turnaround of a cruise ship in the city is worth £2m to the local economy.
“It is also good for ‘brand Southampton’ indirectly as it is great publicity for the city with the Queen coming here and having the word Southampton on the side, it is promoting us wherever it goes.”
The last decade has seen significant growth in Southampton’s cruise industry – in 2004 there were 203 cruise ship visits to the port compared to 430 in 2014 seeing a passenger increase of 532,501 to more than 1.5 million.
The publicity generated by the Queen’s appearance, and the massive capacity of the Britannia (set to be the 11th largest ship in operation) could see that figure continue to rise dramatically.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons and P&O Cruises