MORE than 24,000 people will flood into Southampton when a total of five cruise ships call on the city on the same day this summer.

Saturday, June 8, is shaping up to be one of the busiest days of the year with vessels including P&O Cruises’ Ventura, Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse, the Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC Opera and Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess all berthed in port together. More than 438,000 tons of shipping will “turn-around”, at the end of one voyage and the beginning of another, in less than 12 hours.

All of the port’s passenger terminals will be in use as thousands of vehicles ferry passengers to and from the docks, Southampton Airport and rail services will be on stand-by to handle a huge number of people while hotel rooms in and around the city will be at a premium.

Southampton shopping centre will see a major influx of crew members from the five ships and a large crowd of sight-seers are expected to flock to the waterfront, especially in the late afternoon, when four of the vessels depart from the port.

Royal Princess, which is due to arrive in Southampton on Friday, June 7, from the Italian shipyard where she is being built, will remain in port overnight before leaving on the first of two short preview voyages on Sunday, June 9. She is due to return on Tuesday, June 11 in time for her official naming ceremony events spread over the following two days.

News of this hectic day in port comes as Southampton based P&O Cruises announces details of its programme of voyages in 2014.

The company’s fleet will undertake a total of 269 cruises, visiting 218 ports-of-call, including 17 new destinations, in 77 countries.

Next year will also see P&O Cruises’ first season of summer fly/cruises in the Mediterranean together with a record breaking number of 35 short mini-voyages.

Arcadia will be the first vessel in the company’s fleet to offer single cabins featuring private balconies.

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