The first next generation mega ship for a British cruise line has been ordered today for P&O Cruises.
US parent company Carnival Corporation signed an agreement for the 5,200-passenger vessel.
The new ship for P&O Cruises will be built by Meyer Werft at its shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, with an expected delivery date in 2020.
The vessel will be powered by liquified natural gas (LNG), an energy source claimed to be more environmentally friendly than traditional diesel fuel through reduced exhaust emissions.
Carnival Cruise Line will also take delivery of two similar 180,000 ton ships in 2020 and 2022.
The unnamed new P&O Cruises ship will carry significantly more passengers than current 3,637-capacity flagship Britannia, launched last year by the Queen.
At 180,000 tons, the new P&O Cruises ship will not be as big as the 227,000 ton Harmony of the Seas, currently the world’s largest cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International and capable of carrying 6,780 passengers.
P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “These are very exciting times".
“The number of British passengers taking a cruise in the past five years has significantly increased, boosted most recently by our very successful launch of Britannia last year".
“We know there is still huge potential as more and more people realise the value for money, choice and range of dining and entertainment options available on ships of all sizes.
“With an amazing range of itineraries, from two days to three months, there is a cruise to suit every budget".
“P&O Cruises is uniquely experienced in designing ships to meet the specific needs and aspirations of British passengers and the agreement by Carnival Corporation & plc to build a new ship of this size reflects all that our guests and prospective cruisers have been telling us and shows our confidence in the growth of the UK market".
“This ship will be the largest in the P&O Cruises fleet, will have a striking new exterior and interior design and will comprehensively embrace the company’s classic and iconic features. Innovative new guest experiences will be announced soon".
"In conjunction with the order, the delivery dates for new builds for AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises for 2020 will shift to 2021 to allow the company :to more effectively allocate measured capacity growth across its 10 global cruise brands in more markets throughout the world", the global cruise company said.
Chief executive Arnold Donald said: "We are proud to be at the forefront of introducing LNG-powered ships to the cruise industry, working with our partners to achieve shipbuilding breakthroughs like this that will help us produce the most efficient and sustainable ships we have ever built.
"This is also an important step in our fleet enhancement plan that enables us to execute on our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time, while delivering innovative new ships that further elevate our already great guest experience".
“Every time we launch a new ship, we have a new opportunity to create excitement and show consumers why cruising is a great vacation at an exceptional value, especially for those who typically consider land-based vacations".
Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft, said: "We are excited to welcome P&O Cruises back to Meyer Werft in Germany and Carnival Cruise Line back to Meyer Turku in Finland.
“These new ships will be built in our most modern and environmentally friendly facilities, and we are very proud to design, build and deliver these ships that provide breakthroughs in innovation and for the environment".