SOUTHAMPTON is set to welcome seven new cruise ships and the better part of two million passengers this year in a “tremendous” boost to the city.

Associated British Ports is gearing up for the cruise industry to come back strongly as it prepares to cut emissions by launching the UK’s first shore power facility for cruise ships.

ABP expects to welcome more than two million cruise passengers to its ports this year, the majority of them in Southampton.

Seven ships will make their maiden calls to Southampton, including five brand new vessels.

Peter Taylor, president of Hampshire Chamber and chair of Southampton Chamber of Commerce’s leadership group, said: “It is tremendous news to see that cruise ships are to return in such numbers to Southampton over the coming months. They are a splendid sight for so many as they navigate Southampton Water.

“The city is a global port, and as such is key to the city, the region and the nation. Many families and businesses in the city region depend for their livelihoods on the success of the cruise industry and the many visitors which it brings to Southampton and the wider region.

“Over the pandemic, the team at the port has been proactive in enhancing its offering to those it serves, including the cruise ships, with the construction of the new Horizon cruise terminal as well as addressing climate-related issues with the investment in shore power.”

Southampton City Council leader Cllr Daniel Fitzhenry said: “It’s great to have the cruise ships coming back to the city and new major voyages and to see our cruise business getting back into activity again for the benefit of all of us. It’s really positive and encouraging news.”

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said: “The cruise industry has been through a torrid time.

“Throughout the pandemic the industry did everything to make their operations safe for travellers. We are past the worst of the pandemic, and I am relieved for them, the Port of Southampton and mostly their customers.

“This is very good news and we could all do with some of that.”

Port operator Associated British Ports is expecting two million cruise passengers this year, the majority of them in Southampton.

The new ships include AIDA Cruises’ AIDACosma and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima, both fitted with shore power connectivity to take advantage of the port’s new facilities. The shore power facility means zero emissions at berth for ships that use it.

The other new ships are:

  • Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Beyond, the third in the company’s Edge series and its longest and tallest ship yet, with rooftop garden and float pools
  • Princess Cruises’ Royal class Enchanted Princess, home to 25 bars and restaurants and the largest balcony at sea, covering 1,000sqft
  • SilverSea Cruises’ Silver Moon and Azamara Cruises’ first ship to visit Southampton, Azamara Onward.

Regular visitors such as Cunard’s three queens, MSC’s Virtuosa, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette will return to the city.

Rebekah Keeler, ABP’s head of cruise, said: “ABP Cruise’s ports and destinations offer something for everyone and bring economic value across the UK, so we are thrilled to see such a comprehensive programme for 2022.

“ABP continues to invest in its cruise infrastructure, including Southampton’s shore power, LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunkering, solar energy, new Horizon Cruise Terminal and airbridges.

“As an industry, everyone has come together to navigate challenges and adapt to new ways of working. Together we will continue to meet evolving requirements and create excellent guest experiences, ensuring we welcome new and returning passengers through the year.”