Princess Cruises’ newest ship,Royal Princess, reached a significant construction milestone today when the vessel was “floated out” at its building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. A traditional ceremony marked the occasion, which was highlighted by a participant with a unique tie to the ship and the unveiling of a special ship’s bell.
Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew and Royal Princess Captain Tony Draper attended the event, as did long-time Princess master Captain Nick Nash and his daughter, Victoria, who served as the ship’s “madrina” (or “godmother”).
Following the Italian shipyard’s tradition, the float out of a ship is celebrated when the madrina cuts the cord that begins the flow of water into the ship’s dock. Victoria Nash was chosen to serve as madrina because she has a special connection to the first Royal Princess -- as a baby, she was christened aboard the ship.
“The original Royal Princess left our fleet some time ago, but we wanted to bring the spirit of that much-loved ship, also a prototype design, to the new Royal Princess,” said Buckelew during the ceremony. “And who better to do that than Victoria, who has grown up into a beautiful young lady who will now have a special connection with both vessels.”
As is tradition, the ship’s bell was used as her christening bowl during that ceremony in 1996, and Victoria’s name was subsequently engraved inside the bell to commemorate the occasion. Thanks to the Nash family, this same bell will be aboard the new Royal Princess.
“Captain Nash was presented with the ship’s bell from our original Royal Princess following its decommissioning, and we are delighted that he has very generously offered this bell to be placed aboard our new Royal Princess, in honor of his daughter,” said Buckelew. “Thank you Nick, for this wonderful gift.”
The two-day float-out process involves slowly letting water into the building dock to set the vessel afloat. The ship is then moved to the outfitting dock where final construction and interior outfitting will take place until the ship debuts in June 2013.