Ventura, the largest superliner built exclusively for British holidaymakers has set sail for her homeport, Southampton, after being officially ‘handed over’ to P&O Cruises by the Fincantieri shipyard, Monfalcone, Italy.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: “This is a very exciting day for us as we prepare to cast the ropes aside and head for home. Ventura’s maiden season is almost upon us and this ceremony is the culmination of many months of hard work, creativity and innovation.

“Ventura marks a new era in contemporary British cruising and great attention to detail has been spent designing each and every bar, restaurant and cabin.

“That so many British icons have put their name to this ship – Dame Helen Mirren, Marco Pierre White, Nick Munro and Tate Modern – makes us extremely proud and reaffirms that we have created something very special with Ventura.”

Dame Helen Mirren was recently announced as the godmother of Ventura, and will perform the official naming of the ship in a glamorous and dramatic ceremony on Wednesday 16 April.

Ventura will arrive into Southampton on Sunday 6 April, passing sister ship Aurora in the Solent and arriving into the Mayflower Cruise Terminal at approximately 11am. Visit for information on the best viewing points along the way.

The maiden cruise will set sail from Southampton to the Mediterranean on Friday 18 April, to a fanfare of fireworks from nearby Stokes Bay.

The handover of Ventura marked a special occasion for Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard, as it celebrates the build of its centenary ship. A restored building has been transformed into an on-site museum, showing photography of its 99 previous ships. P&O Cruises commissioned photographer Mike O’Dwyer to design a mosaic artwork of Ventura as a gift to the yard. The mosaic features more than 1300 individual pictures and 6000 tiles.