THE first piece of steel has been cut for the giant for the giant gas-powered cruise ship due to be based at Southampton from next year.

P&O Cruises held a virtual ceremony to mark the milestone in construction of Arvia, which is being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard at Papenburg in Germany.

Arvia is the company’s second liquefied natural gas-powered Excel class ship and will join its sister ship Iona in P&O’s fleet in December 2022. Holidays on Arvia go on sale this month.

P&O reveals Arvia as name of new gas-powered cruise ship

In a speech at the virtual ceremony, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “The steel cutting marks an extraordinary milestone for the future of P&O Cruises.

“It is a future which will include two of the most environmentally innovative ships in the world today.

“Iona is poised to join our fleet this summer as we return to service and is eagerly anticipated by our employees, crew and certainly by our guests who cannot wait to sail on her during her maiden season from Southampton.

“Whilst Arvia may have a different look and feel to Iona, being built to sail in the sun, the inherent DNA is the same. It is one which exemplifies design excellence, forward-thinking power generation and future-focused experiences.

“The hardware, technology and interior arrangement of spaces leaves nothing lacking.

“Every sheet of metal, every control panel, every cabin, light fitting and chair has been designed and debated to ensure that it provides a pinnacle holiday for our guests and the foremost working and living experience for our crew.

“Over the next two years we will see this DNA evolve into our vision as our new ship takes shape and Arvia will join the fleet in December 2022.

“I would like to thank the entire team at Meyer Werft for their partnership and dedication as we begin the build of another spectacular ship.”

The name Arvia, meaning “from the seashore”, was revealed last month in a company video.

Southampton is hoping for a big revival in the cruise industry, which has been put into hibernation by the Covid crisis.

Construction is under way on a fifth terminal for cruises at the port.