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P&O Britannia

P&O’s new ship Britannia was handed over yesterday in a ceremony at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard. She’s still there, however – presumably she’s still fitting out.

She’s due into Southampton on 6 March and will be christened on 10 March. Her first official public cruise – the maiden voyage – departs on 14 March; however, there’s a ‘Pre-Maiden’ short cruise (2 nights) departing on 11 March and returning on the morning of the 13th. I’ve seen this pre-maiden trip referred to as the “TA Jolly”.

Just over 18 months ago I went down to Southampton to see Royal Princess arrive into Southampton, but I won’t be doing the same for Britannia’s arrival. Instead, I’ve been able to blag been invited to a visit onboard her on the 13th for press/TAs/anyone else who showed an interest. So I shall be concentrating on that, and will of course be taking my cameras for that occasion. In the meantime I’m going to ask Andrew Sassoli-Walker for a favour, as I’m sure he will be getting pictures of her arrival.

As an aside – you have to applaud the shipbuilders. Britannia is the third of three sisters – Royal Princess, Regal Princess, and now Britannia and they’ve been built very quickly. I remember seeing Canberra being built at the Harland & Woolf shipyard in Belfast Lough in the late 50s as we arrived on the overnight ferry from Heysham. My point is that this went on for a number of such visits – all together, it was three and a half years between laying the keel and delivery. Fincantieri have built and delivered three much, much larger ships in just four years – construction of Royal Princess began in March 2011, and Britannia is now finished. We are living through a golden age of passenger ship building.

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