David Dingle, CEO of Carnival U.K. -- which owns and operates P&O -- announced the name of the 141,000-ton, 3,600-passenger ship at a press conference this morning in central London.
The ship -- which will be the biggest purpose-built ship for the UK market -- will debut in February 2015 and come into service in March of that year.
“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."
It will also be marketed firmly at the new-to-cruise market, Dingle confirmed.
Very few details are being released about what the ship will feature. These include:
Purpose-built single cabins with balconies
A forward-facing Crow's Nest Bar
An 'enhanced' Glasshouse Bar -- which has proven very popular on other ships in the P&O fleet
The largest spa on the fleet.
Dingle added: “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."
Dingle emphasized that the ship would be an evolution of the fleet, with many of the most popular features that are on its current ships: “We want to create a lasting design style -- we're not making a fashion statement. We want it to be enduring."
For the first time a British design company, Richmond, is overseeing the whole of the design of the ship's interiors to incorporate P&O's 175 years of history, and using 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.
Britannia will sail out of the U.K. to the Atlantic islands and possibly the Caribbean, though final itineraries have not been confirmed yet.
Britannia is currently being built in Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard near Trieste, Italy. 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, and carry 511 more passengers. It will increase P&O's capacity overall by almost a quarter.
Dingle said its launch was coming at an ideal time as the U.K. market picked up, and said he was confident that it would be filled, despite the huge increase in capacity.
No decision has yet been made on who might be the godmother. -- Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor