SOUTHAMPTON has been dubbed the “Heathrow of cruising”

because of the huge number of people now using the port to begin an overseas voyage.

Last year one million passengers started cruises from the UK and of these more than 80 per cent (819,062) started their holiday from the city.

Results of a poll carried out by the Internet’s largest cruising website, Cruise Critic, which has more than one million members, indicate that next year is the most anticipated time for Southampton with the arrival of three major superships, Britannia, Anthem of the Seas, and Royal Princess in the port.

Adam Coulter, UK editor of Cruise Critic said: “Having these three key ships based out of Southampton is very relevant to at least one million people, and shows an important investment into the British cruise industry.

“Southampton was named ‘Best UK Departure Port’ in the Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards in 2013, and by offering excellent choice it really is becoming the ‘Heathrow of cruising’.”

P&O Cruises’ Britannia will be the biggest vessel in the company’s fleet, designed specifically for the British market, she will enter service in Southampton early next year and accommodate up to more than 3,600 passengers.

Highlights of Royal Caribbean’s innovative Anthem of the Seas include a skydiving simulator and North Star, which is modelled on the London Eye and provides 360 degree views from above the sea.

Anthem of the Seas launches in spring 2015, with capacity for 4,180 passengers.

Officially named in Southampton by the Duchess of Cambridge last year, Princess Cruises’ stunning vessel, Royal Princess is returning to the port next year.

Royal Princess will make a brief, one off, appearance in Southampton as a port of call on May 8 this year and then reposition in the city in May 2015.