Next year promises to be one of the busiest times for the port of Southampton with two major cruise companies announcing a packed programme of voyages for 2015.

Southampton-based P&O Cruises will operate its largest ever programme featuring eight ships, 211 cruises, 81 different ports in 61 countries, covering 662,000 nautical miles and sailing 25 seas.

From Flamborough Head to the Fjords, Orinoco to New Orleans and Gozo to Guyana, 2015 marks a new era for P&O Cruises with the entry into service of the 141,000 ton Britannia in Southampton next spring.

Cunard, another city-based line, has also announced a bigger programme for 2015 for its fleet of three “Queen” vessels.

A total of 15 new destinations will be among P&O Cruises’ itineraries while ten ports of special interest are being brought back for 2015 including Charleston, USA, Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Hamilton, Bermuda; Hvar, Croatia and Manaus, Brazil.

Key to this hectic cruising calendar will be the maiden season of the company’s brand new super-ship, Britannia, not only the biggest vessel ever built dedicated to the British market, but also claiming to be the most glamorous.

Britannia’s maiden season will see the ship sail from Southampton to the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords, Canary Islands and the Baltic Sea, as well as providing a range of short breaks and a special round- Britain cruise.

The ship will then transfer to the Caribbean for the winter season sailing a range of 14-night fly cruise itineraries from Barbados.

P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: “We are determined to attract those people who want an effortless holiday and who have not considered a cruise whilst still retaining fresh appeal for regular passengers.

“We hope that the spirit of Britannia will capture the imagination of all those who are looking for the best of the best from a holiday.”

During 2015, when Cunard marks the 175th anniversary of the company’s founding back in 1840, it will be offering a series of celebration cruises throughout the year when its vessels will visit a total of 96 ports, up from 93 this year.

The company’s flagship, Queen Mary 2 will spend more days on the Atlantic than in any other year, at least two crossings a month from May to October, on the traditional passage between Southampton and New York.

Cunard’s Queen Victoria will be repositioned in the Mediterranean during 2015 with five different embarkation ports including Rome, Venice, Athens, Istanbul and Trieste.

Queen Elizabeth will be based in Southampton undertaking a total of 18 round trip voyages to the Mediterranean, Atlantic Islands, Western Europe, Northern Europe and the Caribbean.

Cunard’s marketing director, Angus Struthers said: “We believe our programme for 2015, our 175th anniversary year, is one of the best and most extensive Cunard has ever offered.

“We have listened to our passengers and we will be visiting even more celebrated and iconic destinations along with less familiar but equally alluring places, and we’ll offer longer stays in port.”

More shipping stories: