(1.45 p.m. GMT) -- P&O Cruises’ new ship, Iona, “floated out” at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, for the first time today.
The float out -- when the ship first touches water -- is a key milestone in the construction of a cruise ship and in keeping with maritime tradition is the point at which the ship officially has a name.
The 5,200-passenger ship -- the largest-ever purpose built for the UK -- will launch in May.
Iona's interior will now be fully fitted out, before the ship makes its way along the River Ems (Papenburg is inland) at the end of March. Iona will then undergo sea trials to assess its seaworthiness.
Iona will become P&O Cruises' flagship, and also marks a milestone as the line’s first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-powered ship in the fleet.
Iona will be joined by a sister in 2022.