Southampton, Britain’s biggest cruise port, has formally unveiled its £55 million ‘next generation’ cruise terminal.
The city’s fifth cruise terminal – called Horizon following a public naming competition that attracted 4,000 entries – has 2,000 roof-mounted solar panels and is fitted with the latest technology to enable ships to connect to shore-side power while docked in order to reduce engine emissions and improve air quality.
MSC Cruises, which has a long-term partnership with the port, was the first cruise line to dock at the terminal in July year with its new flagship MSC Virtuosa and the terminal has since welcomed more than 75,000 passengers ahead of the official opening which took place during London International Shipping Week.
The ceremony was carried out by Maritime Minister Robert Courts MP who said:
“As we look towards a brighter and greener future for the cruise sector, we need to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support the shift to cleaner ships.
“The Horizon terminal shows how this can be done. Such innovation will help the sector to build back greener and reduce emissions by providing state-of-the-art green shore power connectivity for cruises here in the UK.”
The number of cruise ships calling at Southampton, which currently 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. It is anticipated that the port will double its passenger numbers to four million over the next 30 years.
Developed in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH), the terminal has also received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Government’s Getting Building Fund with an £8 million grant.
Eamonn Ferrin, NCLH’s VP of International Business, commented:
“We are thrilled to celebrate the return to cruising with such a magnificent opening, which is a testament to the strength and resilience of our industry. Today marks a significant milestone for the cruise industry in the UK.”
Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises have both increased the number of ships sailing from the UK and in 2019 MSC Bellissima was named in Southampton and became the largest-ever ship named in the UK.
Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises’ Managing Director, UK & Ireland, said:
“The opening of the new terminal further strengthens our commitment to the UK market and to the continued growth of the cruise sector in the UK.”
MSC Cruises has confirmed that there will be at least one ship home porting in Southampton for the duration of the partnership as well as other MSC ships calling at the UK as part of itineraries visiting northern Europe.
Alastair Welch, Regional Director at the Port of Southampton, commented:
“We are incredibly pleased to be officially opening Horizon Cruise Terminal and showing a number of our cruise industry and city partners around the building. This investment represents a huge vote of confidence in the future of the cruise industry and as the return of cruise continues to gather pace, we are proud of the role Horizon will play in support of this key industry now and in the future.”
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.
Photographs courtesy of Associated British Ports and MSC Cruises