Cruise ship Britannia: Leaves on maiden voyage

image copyrightPAtricia Dempsey
image captionBritannia left Southampton at 18:00 GMT

A cruise ship named by the Queen on Tuesday has left Southampton on its maiden voyage.

The 3,600-passenger vessel Britannia is the largest cruise ship designed for the British holiday market, operator P&O said.

It left its home port for Gibraltar at 18:00 GMT on a cruise around the Mediterranean for 14 nights.

Britannia was built in Italy at a cost of almost £0.5bn and can hold 3,600 passengers and 1,500 crew.

image copyrightP&O Cruises
image captionPassengers lined the decks as Britannia left the port

As Britannia set sail P&O Cruises tweeted: "And she's off! We've set sail! Now, time to settle in to life on board!"

The first stop will be Gibraltar, followed by Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, then Ajaccio and Cadiz on the way back to Southampton.

The 141,000-tonne ship features a 94m (308ft) Union Jack on its bow and at 330m (1,082ft), the ship is longer than London's Shard is tall.

The event on Tuesday, which Prince Philip also attended, marked the fifth time a cruise ship had been named by Her Majesty.

Britannia bears the same name as the Queen's former Royal Yacht Britannia, that was decommissioned in 1997 after more than 40 years of service.

The ship will be based in Southampton during the summer months and in the Caribbean over the winter.

media captionDuncan Kennedy takes a look around the cruise ship Britannia
image copyrightP&O
image captionBands, dancers and singers performed at the naming ceremony of Britannia

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