A COOKERY club run by top chefs will be a feature on a 141,000-tonne new Southampton-based cruise liner which will start voyages next year.

Hampshire TV chef James Martin, star of hit programme Saturday Morning Kitchen, will join patissier Eric Lanlard to operate the cookery classes aboard the P&O Cruises 3,600-passenger vessel Britannia.

The ship’s restaurants will feature creations by chefs Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar and Olly Smith.

P&O Cruises have revealed that the ship will sail on its maiden voyage from its home port of Southampton on March 14 next year.

Maiden voyage The 14-night Mediterranean voyage will include stops at Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome.

After it is built in Italy, the ship’s maiden British Isles cruise will be a 12-night voyage starting on July 6 2015 and include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Dublin and Cork.

The opening season for the 1,837-cabin vessel includes sailings to the Caribbean, the Baltic and the Canaries.

Currently marooned in a vast construction dry dock, the 141,000 ton, Britannia is due to be “floated out” and moved to a nearby fitting out berth this week. In a traditional Italian ceremony a local priest will lead a short religious service before huge valves are opened and, for the first time, water will flood into the dry dock to surround the ship’s hull.

Unlike the rest of the company’s Southamp-ton-based ships Britannia will have two striking blue funnels, each featuring the P&O Cruises’ “rising sun” logo while the Union Flag, will be emblazoned along its hull.

Britannia will feature a supervised children’s club and a three-tier atrium. There will be 13 bars and 13 different places to eat, a spa, a sports arena, four swimming pools, entertainment arenas, a dance hall and an art collection worth more than £1 million.

All outside-facing cabins have balconies and there are 64 suites.

P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: “Britannia will introduce cutting-edge design combined with a range of innovations uniquely styled to appeal to those who may not have considered a cruise holiday before, as well as our many loyal past passengers.”