Britannia calls into the River Forth with a welcome from her royal namesake
The UK’s largest and newest cruise liner, P&O Cruises’ Britannia, called into the River Forth today (8 July) with around 5,000 people on board as part of her first British Isles tour.
The brand new 141,000 tonne luxury liner, which was launched by Her Majesty the Queen earlier this year, was warmly welcomed into the river by tugs displaying their water cannons in the time honoured way as she made her way to Forth Ports’ new anchorage point off Newhaven, near Leith, Edinburgh.
At 12noon, P&O Cruises Britannia took part in a “ships’ horn” welcome which could be heard across the city with the cruise liner and other ships in Newhaven and the Port of Leith sounding their horns to mark the occasion.
In a ceremony on board the new Britannia, Captain Paul Brown was presented with a gift from the City of Edinburgh by the Deputy Lord Provost Steve Cardownie who welcomed the ship and her passengers to Scotland’s beautiful capital city.
The Captain also welcomed guests from the ship’s royal namesake, The Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen’s former floating palace, which is now a five star visitor attraction, permanently berthed in Leith, for a tour of the P&O Cruises Britannia ship and for the Royal Yacht’s Chairman - Rear Admiral Neil Rankin - to see for himself the bridge of the new £473m liner. The Royal Yacht Britannia returned this welcome by inviting Captain Paul Brown aboard the Royal Yacht.
Commenting on Britannia’s inaugural visit, Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the magnificent Britannia to Newhaven today. Forth Ports’ cruise business is an important economic generator for Scotland with the draw of Edinburgh being very attractive for cruise operators around the world. We have opened this anchorage this season as a permanent option for larger liners to call into the Forth and we look forward to welcoming more vessels this year.”
Captain Paul Brown from P&O Cruises Britannia said: “I am delighted to bring Britannia into Newhaven and personally very excited to be in this historic port. To see The Royal Yacht Britannia is a highlight for me and I know all our passengers are looking forward to seeing the stunning city and landscape along the Forth.”
The Royal Yacht Britannia’s Chief Executive, Bob Downie, said: “It is great to see this new anchorage welcoming such a high profile cruise ship to Edinburgh, and we look forward to seeing many more similar visits in the coming years.”
Edinburgh’s Deputy Lord Provost, Steve Cardownie, said: “The two Britannias - one with 5,000 passengers and crew on board and the other with 300,000 visitors a year in Edinburgh and indeed the UK’s number one attraction* - is great news for the capital’s ports. The new deep water anchorage that has been opened at the site is a positive step towards further reinvigorating the Newhaven and Leith area, and the city will certainly benefit from the increase in visitor footfall. It really is a spectacle to see them so close in Edinburgh’s waters.”
P&O Cruises Britannia’s maiden itinerary, which many are describing as a lap of honour, is a celebration of all things British, from its bold Union Flag livery, contemporary elegant design and cutting edge art collection to the best chefs this country has to offer, the range of British cheeses and its Great British Beer and Gin menus. During its day-long call at Newhaven, many passengers disembarked using a tender operation managed by Forth Ports, to enjoy bus tours calling at the iconic Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies, the golfing attractions of St Andrews and the World Heritage Site of Edinburgh while others strolled along from Newhaven Harbour to nearby Leith to visit The Royal Yacht Britannia.
Forth Ports’ new cruise ship anchorage operation off Newhaven Harbour was opened this season to accommodate larger liners like Britannia who have thousands of passengers on board looking for direct access to Edinburgh. The anchorage point will see a further three calls during the 2015 season.