The Queen launches the Britannia
The Queen and Prince Philip launched P&O's new Britannia vesselGetty

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have launched P&O Cruises new liner Britannia at a ceremony in Southampton.

The 141,000 ton ship bears the same name as the royal yacht that was in operation from 1954 to 1997 and is the fifth cruise liner the monarch has named.

Prince Philip was also at the naming event, which culminated in a traditional way when a bottle of champagne - a British Brut NV from the Wiston Estate Winery at Pulborough in West Sussex - was smashed on the £500m ship's hull.

David Dingle, CEO of Carnival UK, the company which owns P&O said at the ceremony: "The naming of a new ship is a proud moment for any shipping line but today holds a special significance for P&O and our shared past and future.

"We are honoured the Queen is naming Britannia."

It is hoped the Britannia cruise ship - which measures 330m (1,082ft) in length - will boost tourism in home port Southampton, where it will set sale during the summer and from the Caribbean in the winter.

Its maiden voyage will be on 14 March, when it departs the south coast on to Spain, Italy and France.

The ship's royal namesake is now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh after it was decommissioned in 1997.

Britannia in numbers:

  • 141,000 tons
  • 3,647 passengers (lower berths)
  • 1,350 crew
  • 15 passenger decks
  • 13 bars
  • 13 places to eat
  • Nine entertainment venues - including a 936-seat state of the art theatre
  • Four pools
  • £1m+ art collection
  • 1,837 cabins - all outside cabins have a balcony
  • 64 suites
  • 1,313 balcony cabins - including 15 single balcony cabins
  • 460 inside cabins - including 12 single inside cabins
  • Oasis Spa & The Retreat
  • Extensive shops - the largest in the fleet at 660 sqm