It's been a busy week for our Cruise Division at Solent Stevedores. P&O's latest addition and flagship to the fleet, MV Britannia, glided into Southampton Water last Friday after departing from the yard at Fincantieri, Monfalcone, Italy, where the £473 Million vessel was handed over to P&O days earlier.
Looking resplendent in the afternoon sunlight, Solent Stevedores was on hand to tie her up and start the final preparations for what has been an action packed week of events showcasing the new ship. At 330m long, towering 70m high, and capacity to carry 4324 passengers, she really is a sight to behold.
After months of planning and close liaison between Carnival UK (P&O's parent company), ABP, and other key parties, the MV Britannia lined up perfectly as expected alongside, giving us clear access to the main storing points to begin offloading the final pieces of rubbish and equipment left over from her 'fit out' which was receiving finishing touches right up until her arrival in Southampton. From then on, a constant stream of stores deliveries needed to be received, checked, and loaded promptly. All of this had to be done whilst working around Under The Radar, the production company tasked with constructing an auditorium, naming dias, and stage for the naming ceremony. Nigel Graham, the Terminal Manager onsite, kept a calm and watchful eye throughout and was ably assisted by his team of supervisors and 'General Duties' operatives, who once again have done Solent Stevedores proud, proactively responding to any requests sent their way.
Finally, Tuesday arrived and for once the sun shone on Southampton. The world's media descended on Ocean Terminal to capture the sparkling naming ceremony, and the moment when Her Majesty The Queen officially named the ship and sent a bottle of English Sparkling Wine smashing into the bow of the Britannia. As the confetti settled and guests departed, it was apparent that our job was only just beginning.
Tonight, Britannia departs on a two night 'shake down' cruise, a chance for all aspects of the ship's Hotel Department to be put to the test before departing on her maiden voyage on 14th March – a sell out 14 night cruise to the Mediterranean. For Solent Stevedores, that will be when the work really starts and our fantastic team does what we do best - delivering a world class service to the cruise industry.