Princess Cruises has marked the beginning of construction of the second of its new generation of ships with the official keel laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
At the same time the line announced that the ship’s name will be Regal Princess.
The vessel, a sister ship to Royal Princess, will debut in spring 2014.
The company and shipyard officials started the countdown to the ship’s launch today as the keel – the bottommost part of the ship - was ceremoniously lowered into position in the building dock.
“Just as Royal Princess was named after one of our iconic early vessels, Regal Princess also takes a name from our past that we think is well suited for this spectacular ship,” said Alan Buckelew, president of Princess Cruises.
“Today’s keel laying is an exciting event as it marks a key milestone in our new building program.”
Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship’s keel - which weighs approximately 500 tons - was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks.
The computer-guided manoeuvre took only minutes, belying the more than two million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel.
The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out next summer.
Additional details including schedules and itineraries for Regal Princess will be announced next year.