Southampton – the queen of cruise ports

By | Category: Travel destinations

For decades, Southampton has been a cruise port.

In 2018 on a single day, six cruise shops docked in Southampton. Image – ABP

As a kid I was taken to see the old Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth when they both were moored there on the same weekend. It was quite a sight. It was there that I saw nearly long forgotten ships such as the Canberra, the Southern Cross, Caronia, (one of the very first ships to have a swimming pool) and the Windsor Castle ( one of the first to have air-conditioning throughout.

Whenever we went there was another cruise ship to see and it was from there that I embarked on my first and only cruise.

Other ports such as Genoa, Barcelona and Venice started attracting ships and tour operators were quick to spot that holidaymakers would fly to one of these ports so as not to waste days sailing there from Southampton.

But as time passed and the pound weakened travelling from a UK port on a ship where only pounds sterling was needed had more appeal.

That helped Southampton grow even more and during the coming year some 500 plus cruise ships are due to dock there. It will even have fourteen ships making maiden calls there and that includes P&O’s Iona this coming may.

Today, Southampton is Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port welcoming 2 million passengers throughout the year. Every cruise call generates £2 million for the economy so a billion pounds is the yearly economic value of Southampton just as a cruise port before any other value is attributed to it.

This year, it is expecting a record number of cruise ships making maiden calls to the port. In 2020, the port will see 14 maiden calls from cruise vessels, an increase from 11 in 2019 and includes P&O Cruises’ Iona arriving in Southampton for her first call on 9 May. On Saturday 4 July, the port will host the hugely anticipated naming ceremony of Iona as part of the cruise line’s week-long ‘Ionafest’ celebrations.

During the year, the port will also host three naming ceremonies including Celebrity Cruises’ newest vessel, Celebrity Apex, on 28 March and Princess Cruises’, Enchanted Princess, on 30 June.

And with those naming ceremonies as well as the usual cruise calls comes the opportunity to visitors to see and marvel at cruise ships just as I used to do a very, very long time ago!

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