Tuesday 10th March saw the traditional naming ceremony of the largest cruise ship for P&O Cruises and the 11th largest in the world. The ship was christened with the name Britannia, the same name as the Queen’s former Royal Yacht which was decommissioned in 1997. Queen Elizabeth II travelled to Southampton to carry out the ceremony, where she declared the name of the ship and pressed a button which brought a bottle of sparkling wine smashing down against the ship’s hull.
This is the 5th cruise ship to be named by the Queen as she has previously christened P&O Cruises’ Oriana and four Cunard Line ships: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Caronia. The Britannia weighs in at 143,000 tonnes and boasts 15 passenger decks, more than 12 eateries and four swimming pools with a capacity of more than 3500 passengers.
It would seem that the tradition of ceremonially naming ships has been going on for as long as humans have been making them, with records showing that as far back as 5000 years ago the Babylonians were blessing the launch of a ship by sacrificing animals. The tradition extended to the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians who would call on their gods to bless their vessel before it set out on its maiden voyage.
The religious element of the tradition carried on until the Protestant Reform when the job of christening a ship would be more likely to be performed by a monarch or military leader rather than a priest. This is when the tradition of breaking a bottle of champagne started to be introduced, though it started as a ‘standin cup’ which would be sipped from by the person naming the ship, then the rest of its contents thrown across the deck. The tradition slowly turned into what it is today, and now, most ships are christened in this way.
Here at Offshore Supply, we’re no strangers to the nautical world, and as boat chandlers, we love a good ship naming! If your ship is just about to launch, you may find yourself in need of supplies, which is where we come in. For anything, you may need to set off on your maiden voyage, contact us today by calling 01524 862010 to speak to a member of our team.