THE PORT of Southampton is to witness a dramatic change in the face of the British cruising industry, says the UK head of one of the country's major shipping lines.

P&O Cruises will have a totally new look in 2005 with the arrival of the new 85,000-ton superliner Arcadia and the repositioning and renaming of the present Royal Princess that becomes Artemis with its home berth in the city's docks.

David Dingle, the Southampton-based managing director of P&O Cruises, has revealed further details of the major changes due to take place within the company's fleet next year.

"As Britain's leading cruise line we have always taken great pride in our ability to respond to the changing needs of our passengers and 2005 will be no exception as we launch Arcadia, the largest cruise ship to be designed and built exclusively for British passengers,'' said Mr Dingle, in a letter to thousands of regular P&O Cruises' passengers.

"Joining Arcadia will be a second addition to the fleet, the 45,000-ton Artemis, built, almost uniquely, with 600 all outside cabins, of which a quarter feature a private balcony.

"Together with Aurora, Oceana and Oriana these ships will create unparalleled choice for our passengers. Arcadia and Artemis will be designated as ships exclusively for adults, a style of cruising unique to P&O Cruises, with families continuing to be extremely well served by the other ships in our fleet.''

These moves come as a result of strategic changes by Carnival Corporation, which owns P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises, to restructure capacity and tighten its grip on the British market.

The new Arcadia, one of the company's most traditional of names, now under construction in Italy was originally intended for Cunard where she was due to enter service as Queen Victoria but instead she will now be switched to P&O Cruises and begin her maiden voyage on April 14, 2005.

"It will be in June of next year that Artemis will join P&O Cruises as the fifth ship in our fleet,'' said Mr Dingle. "Many were disappointed by the departure of the former Victoria from P&O Cruises service in 2002 and miss the small-ship atmosphere on board so we are delighted to be welcoming Artemis to our fleet as we are certain she will be a fantastic addition and will soon create her own loyal following.''

In a separate move the present P&O cruise ship, Adonia will leave the Southampton fleet and return to Princess Cruises, where she first saw service, and resume the name Sea Princess. As Sea Princess she will be dedicated to the British market and be based in the UK.