Happy birthday, Britannia! P&O Cruises’ newest and largest ship is one year old this week.
The ship was named by The Queen in Southampton on March 10 last year and the party will take place in the Caribbean, where Britannia has been enjoying her first winter season.
The ship returns to Southampton on March 25 and after a two-day short-break cruise to Zeebrugge, leaves for a two-week cruise to the Mediterranean. During the voyage Ant and Dec will be on board to broadcast Saturday Night Takeaway live from Barcelona on April 2.
Two days later (April 4) Britannia will be on television again, for the first of a series of Battlechefs broadcast on the W channel. Celebrity cooks Alex James (Blur), comedienne Jenny Eclair, actress Debra Stephenson, choreographer Jason Gardiner and Olympic medallist Greg Rutherford will compete in the ship’s Cookery Club before being judged by Marco Pierre White.
The next contest is between Keith Duffy (Boyzone and Coronation Street), John Partridge (EastEnders), JB Gill (JLS), fashion expert Susannah Constantine, and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey.
DISNEY Cruise Line has placed orders for two new ships. At 135,000 tons and with about 1,250 cabins, they will be slightly larger than Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, launched in 2011 and 2012. The two new vessels – still to be named – will be built by Meyer Werft in Germany, and they are scheduled for delivery in 2012 and 2023.
THOMSON Cruises plan to have a ship sailing from the UK next summer, for the first time since 2014. The 1,254-passenger Thomson Celebration will be based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, sailing four-to 14-night itineraries to the Norwegian fjords, the Baltic, and Iceland.
SIX NEW Viking longships – bringing the fleet total to 60 – were christened in Amsterdam last week. Two of them will be deployed on the Seine, despite an admission from Viking chairman Tor Hagen that US bookings fell by 58 per cent immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris last November.
The company’s rapid growth on the rivers will slow next year, with only two new ships planned. Viking’s second ocean ship, Viking Sea, debuts next month and will be followed in 2017 by Viking Sky and Viking Sun.