First stop, Deck 17 for the ‘Coin Ceremony’. The welding of a small glass fronted case containing two coins to an open area of the ship. These are a 1oz solid silver fresh minted 2013 coin featuring Britannia with her trident and shield representing the year the hull was laid, the other an Italian coin representing where the ship was built. This was carried out by the Madrina ‘Godmother’ Louis Hunt.
Next, the formal ceremony with speeches from officials of the shipyard together with Nigel Tempest the Chief Commercial Officer of Carnival UK who said:
“Britannia will be a market-leading ship for a market-leading brand when she makes her debut in spring 2015. There will be an unrivalled mixture of contemporary sophistication mixed with those enduring hallmarks of P&O Cruises: high quality service, cuisine and entertainment delivered with style and glamour.
“We wanted Britannia to become a Modern Classic with the core of P&O Cruises heritage augmented by the latest contemporary design. 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.”
The ‘Blessing’ was delivered by the shipyard padre, then all went silent, a sense of pride descended over the area as shipyard workers, visitors and others stood silently together whilst both Italian and English National Anthems were played. Then, loud cheers as the Madrina, chopping the cord with a small axe, released a bottle of Italian Prosecco, allowing it to smash against the ship’s hull. It is Italian tradition that the Madrina carries out these duties at ‘Float Out’ ceremonies. To select the ‘Madrina’ for this particular ship P&O Cruises held a travel agent competition resulting in the selection of Louis Hunt from Travel Counsellor’s. As the bottle smashed against the ship’s hull the air filled with sounds of ships whistles giving their own salute to this new ship whilst the sea valves of the dry dock opened and Britannia began to meet her new environment. Now she will be fitted out to the specifications and designs of Richmond International ready for the maiden voyage from Southampton to the Mediterranean on March 14 2015.
Undoubtedly when Britannia sails into Southampton for the first time the seafront will be thronged with a multitude of well-wishers, not only the local populous, but from the thousands of loyal fans that P&O has built up over the years all eager to see what is the biggest ship ever built primarily for the UK cruise market. They will not be disappointed as M.S. Britannia, a true ruler of the waves, glides up Southampton Water to berth for the first time in her home port.
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Getting up at 4.30am on a wet, cold and windy morning is not everybody’s idea of fun but today was to be a fun day. Shower, dressed and in the car to Farnborough Airport where our jet to Trieste was waiting. Today was special, the ‘Coin Ceremony’,’ Blessing’ and ‘Float Out’ ceremony of P&O’s biggest ship yet, “ Britannia”.
Landing at Trieste showed it to be a perfect launch day. Warm breeze with the sun shining in an almost cloudless sky. Approaching the Monfalcone Shipyard the blue funnels of Britannia stood majestic above the cranes and gantry’s. This ship is not big, it is huge, a mega 5* floating hotel. 141,000 tonnes, 1,083 ft. long and 126 ft. wide manned by a crew of 1,350. Capable of transporting 3,647 passengers in 1,837 cabins, 1,313 of which have balconies. A choice of 13 restaurants and cafes to dine in, 13 different bars to drink in, 9 entertainment venues to be entertained in and with 4 swimming pools to relax in this will be a ship that will cater for all tastes and appeal to nearly everyone.
The hull and superstructure complete it was now time for Britannia to meet the environment she was built for, the sea ...
Alan's video images of the ceremony
Alan Fairfax -
is a travel writer for
YOUR HOLIDAY TV
Alan also writes for the
Ashford Advertiser Media Group with regional papers across Kent with regular holiday & travel sections in all editions
He is also a columnist for SilverTravelAdvisor and
My Cruise Magazine