THE QUEEN LAUNCHES P&O CRUISES NEW SHIP BRITANNIA

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia

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The day was bright and sunny for Her Majesty and Prince Philip as the Royal party arrived to launch P&O Cruises new ship Britannia last Tuesday, a welcome change from the drizzle and rain of the previous day.

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
Awaiting The Queen’s arrival

Before the official naming ceremony took place though, the seated guests (thoughtfully supplied with hand warmers and mugs of hot spiced cordial) were treated to some acrobatic ‘zorbing’, the exuberant Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and The Irish Guards.

There was a brief speech from David Dingle, chairman of P&O Cruises’s parent company Carnival, a prayer from the Bishop of Southampton, and then the invitation for the Queen to name Britannia from Captain Paul Brown, with proceedings ably and entertainingly MC’d by comedian Rob Brydon.

The sparkling wine from Wiston vineyard in West Sussex was ready to go...
The sparkling wine from Wiston vineyard in West Sussex was ready to go…

The Nebuchadnezzar of sparkling wine from the Wiston vineyard in West Sussex looked as if it were travelling worryingly slowly down the wire towards the ship once Her Majesty had pushed the launch button, but in the end it broke on the side with a emphatic smash.

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
Britannia made for a rather impressive backdrop for Her Majesty
The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
‘I name this ship Britannia’

The crowd burst into applause, were showered with confetti and then treated to a rendition of the National Anthem by singer Laura Wright. Then it was time for the VIPs such as Britannia’s Food Heroes (including Olly Smith and Marco Pierre White) to go and be presented to the Queen.

Rob Brydon said what we’d all been thinking: ‘The Very Important People have now gone – so there’s just some important people and well, just people left here now…’  and after a burst of Rule Britannia it was time to head off.

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
The sky filled with patrotic post-launch confetti

The ceremony capped a pleasant 24 hours on the ship, in which I explored the almost empty ship on the Monday and sampled the canteen fare in the Horizon restaurant.

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
My rather smart cabin on ‘A’ deck

I had checked into my room, a very smart double cabin on the top deck, and then enjoyed pre-diner cocktails with several thousand other people in Britannia’s ‘starburst’ atrium while being entertained by the ubiquitious Mr Brydon.

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
Rob Brydon addresses the throng in the central atrium

Then it was time for the launch dinner at the Peninsular Restaurant – highlights of which were the final course of Eric Lanlard‘s desserts and Charlie Turnbull‘s selection of artisan cheeses with a ponoma cider brandy chosen by Olly Smith.

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
Red berry parfait, chocolate tear drop and lemon cheesecake – the best dish of the night by far
The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
Some delicious artisan cheeses and a very pleasant cider brandy

When I finally left the ship and headed back to reality, I didn’t go empty-handed: all guests were given a bottle of Wiston bubbly and a pair of crystal glasses, plus we got to keep our insulated coffee mugs. How very civilised!

goodie bag

The Queen launches P&O Cruises new ship Britannia
My red carpet moment…

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Sarah Bridge

Sarah Bridge

Every review is personally researched and written by leisure expert Sarah Bridge who, when she is not writing about leisure for a national newspaper, spends her time seeking out the best leisure experiences, from city centre boutique hotels to country house estates, Michelin-starred dining to the newest openings.
Sarah Bridge
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