The port of Southampton is set to cement its title as the UK’s busiest cruise port with the opening of a fifth terminal next year. Due for completion in late spring the new terminal will help Southampton handle the 2million passengers, which already pass through the South Coast port each year.
The opening follows the announcement by the port owners Associated British ports (ABP) of a strategic partnership with two of the world largest cruise lines MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
The terminal which is being constructed in the city’s Western Docks will be “next-generation-ready”, and able to accomodate world’s biggest ships, which currently carry 6,000 passengers or more.
Alastair Welch, director of ABP 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.”
The new £55 million terminal will feature ultra-modern technology including roof-mounted solar power and ship to shore power connectivity. Also known as ‘cold ironing’, The technology allows for ships to shut down their own generators and obtain power by plugging into local shore based electricity grid.
It scheme has received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with an £8 million grant through the government’s Getting Building Fund.
Christopher Hammond, leader of Southampton City Council and Solent LEP director, said: “We are committed to ensuring we can emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with the strongest foundations for future growth. I’m pleased that this investment joins a growing list of public and private commitments to making our city greener, fairer and healthier, whilst providing much needed jobs in our economic renewal.”
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said: “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.
Antonio Paradiso, managing director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland, said: “Whilst we’ve always had loyal passengers from the UK & Ireland, over the last five years we’ve been on a real journey in the UK market.
“We were delighted to see such strong organic growth which lead to our first ever full season sailing from the UK in 2018, followed by the naming ceremony of MSC Bellissima in the port of Southampton bringing guests from around the world to the city to celebrate the milestone event in 2019. We ended 2019 with the most successful year of sales ever in the UK & Ireland, something we are incredibly proud of.”
He added: “MSC Cruises is serious about the UK market and now more than ever we believe in the potential here and making this long-term commitment to bringing even more passengers to Southampton is evidence of that.
Steve Moeller, senior vice president of commercial development at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, added: “This agreement marks the continuation of the strong partnership between Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and the Port of Southampton and demonstrates our commitment to the region.”
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