THE first in the next generation of 21st century superships, Royal Princess, is on course to be revealed to the world in Southampton next year.

At 141,000 tons and able to carry up to 3,600 passengers, Royal Princess, bristling with on-board facilities never before seen on a cruise ship, will be officially named in a spectacular ceremony on Southampton’s waterfront in June 2013.

The choice of Southampton by Carnival Corporation, the Miamibased cruise ship empire, as the venue for this prestigious international event reflects the important and influential role the city now has in this multi-billion-pound maritime sector.

Royal Princess, the latest vessel destined to join the growing Princess Cruises fleet of 16 ships , is under construction in Italy.

It will undertake a number of preview cruises from Southampton leading up to her maiden voyage.

For the remainder of the 2013 summer season, Royal Princess will be based in the Mediterranean.

Although Princess Cruises has already released a huge amount of information about Royal Princess, no details of who will name the ship – the third vessel to bear the name in the company’s history – or what form the ceremony will take have been revealed.

A spokesman for Princess Cruises, said: “Royal Princess will be without doubt one of the most remarkable ships Southampton has ever seen, and the celebrations surrounding her entry into service will be equally spectacular.’’ The ship is nowat an advanced stage of construction and later this month she is due to be floated out of her present dry dock and moved to a nearby fitting-out berth before undergoing a demanding programme of sea trials.

The most striking new design element is an over-water “SeaWalk’’, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship’s starboard side extending more than 28ft beyond the edge of the vessel.

From here passengers will have dramatic views, including to the waves 128ft below, while on the ship’s port side, guests will find a similarly unique cantilevered “SeaView’’ bar.

Princess Cruises has already introduced an open-air cinema on a number of its ships, but on Royal Princess this facility will be expanded in size and be equipped with a highdefinition viewing system.

All of Royal Princess’s outside cabins, which make up more than 80 per cent of her 1,780 staterooms, will feature a private balcony.

A sister ship to Royal Princess will be launched in spring 2014.