June 8, 2017
(5:30 p.m. BST) -- Newscaster Angela Rippon has officially named Cruise & Maritime Voyages' latest ship, Columbus at a ceremony held at the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury Thursday.
The celebrations will see the television personality, who presents shows such as "Rip Off Britain" and "Holiday Hit Squad," join guests at a five-course gala dinner, followed by a fireworks display over the River Thames.
Following its handover to Cruise & Maritime Voyages from P&O Australia, Columbus has become the line's flagship and largest ship in terms of passenger numbers.
The 1,400-passenger vessel arrived in its new homeport of Tilbury on June 5 after a three-week refurbishment at the Damen Ship Yard in Rotterdam, which saw a number of significant changes take shape.
The ship's capacity has been reduced from 1,800 to accommodate 150 new single cabins, the former kids club has been replaced with the Columbus Observation Lounge, and a card and bridge room called Trumps & Aces has been added, along with a new library and the Crafter's Studio.
The ship's former casino has been pared back and renamed as the Captain's Club & Casino, while the former Captain's Lounge has been rebranded as the Taverner's Pub, serving four draught beers and 15 bottled varieties, among other drinks.
The ship is no stranger to the U.K. market, having previously sailed as P&O Cruises' old Arcadia and then as the original Ocean Village before being acquired by P&O Australia and renamed Pacific Pearl.
The vessel will sail its first passenger voyage as Columbus on a three-night cruise to Amsterdam and Antwerp on June 11, followed by a six-night sailing to the Norwegian Fjords on June 14. It will embark on its first world cruise in 2018.
During Columbus' official naming ceremony, Cruise & Maritime Voyages' CEO and Chairman Christian Verhounig hinted that a new ship is on the horizon for the cruise line.
"We are actively looking for new ships," he said. "Expect an announcement very soon."
The line's commercial director, Chris Coates, also revealed that Marco Polo will remain in the fleet and that 2019's programming is underway."
He added: "We have sold 95 percent of our 2017 capacity, and we are already at 40 percent for 2018."
--By Kerry Spencer, Editor, U.K.