(11 a.m. EDT) -- P&O Cruises cut the first piece of steel for its newest ship, which is being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
The 5,200-passenger ship marks two firsts for P&O Cruises -- the largest ever dedicated to the British market and the first ship run solely on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
The name of the new ship -- which launches in 2020 -- will be revealed at 4 p.m. this Thursday, May 24th.
The steel cutting ceremony was attended by P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Paul Ludlow, Carnival UK President Josh Weinstein and Tim Meyer, managing director of Meyer Werft.
Ludlow said: "Our new ship will be the largest ship ever operated by the brand and the largest ever to be dedicated exclusively to the UK cruise industry.
"It will also be the first ship in our market to be powered by LNG, the most environmentally friendly power source yet for large-scale cruise ships. With UK passenger numbers set to top 2 million for the first time this year, we are confident in cruising's future and believe that there will be an exceptionally positive UK response to this ship and the innovations it will bring. We also expect this ship to persuade many UK consumers to take that all-important first cruise."
P&O Crusies has been drip-feeding details about the new ship; here is what we know so far:
• As with all the rest of the ships in the fleet, the emphasis will be on food, drink and entertainment.
• It will feature a half-mile "Lanai" deck -- an outdoor, covered promenade that will include alfresco restaurants and bars.
• The focal point of the ship will be the Atrium, which will feature triple-deck glass panels. There will also be a grand staircase, a gallery and overhead walkways.
• A giant dome on top of the ship will be one of four onboard entertainment spaces, featuring aerial performances, projections onto the roof and immersive shows.
• The vessel will have 17 eateries, including seven speciality restaurants (current flagship Britannia has just three), 12 bars, 13 entertainment venues, three pop-up entertainment spaces/venues, four swimming pools (three outside and one inside) and 16 whirlpools.
P&O Cruises will announce the name of the new ship on Thursday, May 24, at 4 p.m. on the company's Facebook page, following a competition asking members of the public to suggest a name. There were 30,000 submissions.
Check out the video of the steel cutting ceremony.
--By Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, UK