SOUTHAMPTON will be bulging at the seams as the city’s waterfront experiences one of the busiest weeks of 2011, over the next few days.

A total of 14 cruise ships, attracting many thousands of passengers, will all converge on the city, and, later in the week, the internationally renowned Southampton Boat Show opens for business in and around Mayflower Park.

Boat Show

You can find out more about the PSP Southampton Boat Show by visiting our special boat show section.

Roads in and and out of the city as well as those close to the docks will be tested to the limits as passengers embark and disembark some of the world’s biggest cruise ships, while large crowds head for the boat show site.

Yesterday saw nearly 20,000 people pass through the port as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, together with Celebrity Eclipse, and for the first time, Costa Luminosa, were alongside at the same time. Costa, part of Carnival Corporation, which also includes Cunard, P&O Cruises, and Princess Cruises, among its stable of shipping lines, called at Southampton for her passengers, mostly Italians, to take shore excursions.

Their differing livery belies the fact that Queen Elizabeth and Costa Luminosa are in fact sister ships. They are both Vista class vessels built by the same Italian yard.

It was a maiden call for Costa Luminosa, which entered service in June, 2009, as this was the first time she had visited Southampton.

Today Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral is in port, together with Artania, formerly better known in Southampton as P&O Cruises’ Artemis, and the 92,409 ton, MSC Orchestra.

A second MSC vessel, MSC Poesia is due to call tomorrow, while, P&O Cruises’ Ventura will turn-around, between voyages on Thursday.

Friday, the first day members of the public can see the hundreds of craft on display at the boat show, will see the third MSC ship of the week, MSC Opera, and P&O Cruises’ Adonia, in port together.

On Saturday, traditionally one of the boat show’s busiest days, the vast, Independence of the Seas, is due to be towering over Mayflower Park, while Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess, and P&O Cruises’ Oceana will be berthed in the docks.