With cruise ship Royal Princess nearing completion in an Italian shipyard, speculation is mounting over the identity of the special person who will be chosen to name her on June 13.
When an earlier ship was given the same name at a ceremony in Southampton in 1984 the godmother was Princess Diana There is little doubt that Princess Cruises are keeping their fingers crossed that advancing pregnancy will not rule out the Duchess of Cambridge before the big day.
Printed invitations should have been sent out to VIP guests two weeks ago but the only confirmation so far has been a “save the date” email from company president Alan Buckelew.
I toured the ship this week with Rai Caluori, executive vice-president in charge of fleet operations. He struggled to maintain a poker face behind his dark glasses when I tried to persuade him to confirm the name, but his body language spoke volumes.
Carrying 3,600 passengers and 1,346 crew, and measuring 1,083 feet in length, Royal Princess will be the line’s biggest cruise ship to date. A sister ship, Regal Princess, was ceremoniously floated out of drydock this week, and the building blocks for a third vessel of the same hull design, to be launched by P&O Cruises in 2015, were being readied on the quayside.
Among several firsts on Royal are a TV studio which will be used for live performances and broadcasts throughout the ship, and a pastry shop open 24-7.
Captain Tony Draper, from Cornwall, will bring Royal Princess into Southampton for the first time on June 7 and the ship will depart for its maiden voyage to the Mediterranean on June 16