The Port of Southampton will open its new £55 million cruise terminal for the 2021 season, marking a major boost for the UK cruise industry and local economy.
The number of cruise ships calling at the UK’s number one cruise port, which now welcomes two million passengers annually, has grown from 250 to 500 in the past decade. The fifth terminal will be able to accommodate the largest vessels and meet increasing demand for cruise holidays from the UK, which are set to be some of the first cruises to start when Covid restrictions are lifted.
Developed in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, the Port of Southampton’s newest terminal has also received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Government’s Getting Building Fund with an £8 million grant.
In a commitment to sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices, the terminal will have roof-mounted solar power and to reduce engine emissions ships fitted with the latest technology will be able to ‘plug in’ to a shore side power supply while docked.
Alastair Welch, Director of Associated British Ports Southampton, said:
“We’re very pleased to announce this major advance in our cruise infrastructure at the port, delivering further access to Southampton for the industry, whilst supporting our commitment to accelerate improvements in local air quality.
“This investment is a huge vote of confidence in the future of cruise in Southampton and we’re excited to be at the forefront of a growing industry.”
Robert Courts MP, Minister for Maritime, Department for Transport, described Southampton as being the heart of UK’s cruising industry and said the new terminal will create jobs and boost the area’s economy.
“As we continue to support the cruise sector in its restart and recovery, it’s great to see government funding being used to help deliver better services for passengers. This next-generation facility also showcases to ports around the world how we’re pioneering the use of green technology right here in the UK.”
MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line have increased the number of ships sailing from the UK. Last year the MSC’s flagship, MSC Bellissima, was officially named in Southampton, becoming the largest ship ever to be christened in the UK.
MSC Cruises CEO, Gianni Onorato, said:
“We are really proud to be further supporting the UK cruise industry at this incredibly important time for both the industry and the UK economy. At MSC Cruises we really believe in the potential of the UK cruise market and making this long-term commitment is evidence of that.
“Over the last five years MSC Cruises has increased our presence in the UK and Irish markets and following a positive response from travel agents and our guests we feel now is the right time to make a more substantial commitment. We are in a unique position that not only will we be committing to having an MSC Cruises’ ship home port from Southampton every year, but several of our ships will be visiting Southampton as a destination as part of our wider cruise programme.”
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Images courtesy of Associated British Ports