THE port of Southampton has been twinned with the cruise capital of the world – Miami.

Visitors from PortMiami and Miami-Dade County visited the city and spoke of strengthening cultural and commercial ties between the two ports.

They signed a port agreement before heading to Southampton Civic Centre to sign a city twinning agreement.

Port officials at Southampton say the visit demonstrates an allegiance between PortMiami, the world’s leading cruise port, and the Port of Southampton, Europe’s leading cruise “turnaround” port.

Juan Kuryla, port director at Port Diami, and Carlos Gimeneze, mayor at Miami-Dade County, signed the international sister seaports agreement with Alastair Welch, director of the Port of Southampton.

The agreement officially links the ports and opens channels for cruise industry best practice.

Mr Welch said: “We are pleased to be officially linked with our friends at PortMiami and hope we can mutually benefit from lessons learned around successes seen on both sides.”

Mr Kuryla said: “Miami-Dade County and Southampton have much in common. Our ports are both leaders in trade and tourism through our cargo and cruise activity.

“I look forward to growing our relationship as sister cities and sister ports through the strengthening of our cultural and commercial ties, and I anticipate the development of economic opportunities for us both.”

Southampton City Council leader Cllr Christopher Hammond said: “Like Southampton, Miami is a gateway to the world, and for hundreds of years people and goods have come to this confident and open maritime city to trade and visit.

“Forging a new partnership with Miami is a natural step — linking up with another innovative global port city.

“Southampton is at the forefront of discovery and trade, leading on the development of new relationships with international partners and investors.

“The UK has always taken a leading role in responding to global challenges and in making the most of opportunities.

“Now, more than ever, Southampton has a leading role to play in enhancing our global standing, reinvesting in our relationships.”

PortMiami is the busiest cruise and passenger port in the world, welcoming cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norweigan Cruise Line.

As well as being the largest passenger port in the world, PortMiami is one of America’s largest cargo ports.

It welcomes more than 5.5m cruise passengers a year and is said to support more than 334,500 jobs in South Florida.

It is 4,378 miles away from its new sister port in Hampshire.

The Port of Southampton welcomes more than two million cruise passengers each year and brings an estimated £2million into the economy with every visit from a cruise ship.