P&O Cruises has cut the first piece of steel for its newest ship at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

The ship, which launches in 2020, will be named at 4pm on Thursday 24 May, on the company’s Facebook page.

The ceremony was attended by P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow, Carnival UK president, Josh Weinstein, and managing director of Meyer Werft, Tim Meyer.

Weinstein said: “This is the first time in 20 years that P&O Cruises has had a ship built by Meyer Werft and I’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to get us to the first stage in the life of this ground-breaking vessel.

“Meyer Werft has an enviable track record of producing genuinely innovative ships which also deliver tremendous levels of operational efficiency, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership over the next couple of years to this ship’s completion in 2020 and beyond.”

Paul Ludlow added: “This is a very exciting and momentous day. 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 Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

“With UK passengers numbers set to top two 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.”

Last year, P&O Cruises invited the public to suggest a suitable name for the ship. Over 30,000 submissions were received, with a panel of experts making the final decision.

View the video of the steel cutting ceremony here – http://www.pocruises.com/new-ship