(12:00 Noon EDT) -- Work has started on the newest -- and largest ever -- ship built for P&O Cruises and the U.K. market.
A steel-cutting ceremony was held at the Monfalcone shipyard of Fincantieri near Trieste, Italy, for the as-yet-unnamed ship on October 8.
The 141,000-ton, 3,611-passenger ship will be launched in spring 2015.
The next significant date will be the keel-laying in May next year, which involves the placement in the dry dock of one large section of the ship's hull and the beginning of the actual ship build.
P&O first announced it would build a new ship in June last year, but very few details of the £500 million project are known at this stage, other than it will draw on the most popular features of the rest of the rest of the seven-strong fleet.
The ship will be one-fifth bigger in terms of tonnage than the current largest in the fleet, the 115,000-ton, 3,100-passenger Azura, although the jump in passengers is relatively small, with 511 more.
For the first time a British design company, Richmond, is overseeing the whole ship's interiors to incorporate P&O's 175 years of history and modern design touches to try and bring in new-to-cruise passengers.
Richmond has worked on a number of great British hotels, including The Langham, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Intercontinental Hotel London, and Four Seasons Hampshire; as well as international hotels including Four Seasons Mauritius and Sandy Lane Barbados.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor