ONE of Hampshire's most travelled senior citizens was given the honour of unveiling a £5 million upgrade to a major port facility at Southampton.

Florence ‘Dennie’ Farmer had just stepped off Queen Mary 2 after completing her eighth world cruise when she unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon to open the newly refurbished QE2 Cruise Terminal.

The 85-year-old globetrotter has spent almost 2,000 days at sea aboard Cunard liners and is the company’s most loyal customer.

Her early trips were made with her husband Willie Farmer, who served as chief engineer on both Queen Elizabeth and QE2 until retirement in October 1979.

Since her husband’s death Dennie, a former teacher, has retained her links with the company and has already booked world cruises for 2017 and 2018.

“I don’t have a favourite ship – I always say my favourite is the one I’m on at the time,” Dennie told the Echo.

The improvements to the terminal come just two months short of the 50th anniversary of its opening by the Queen.

The £5m joint investment by port owners ABP and cruise company Carnival has expanded its capacity.

The layout and flow of the passenger drop-off area has been improved, with increased use of the undercover drop-off facilities.

An enlarged security x-ray area now has six scanners instead of three and the baggage hall is 25 per cent bigger and can be accesses by a new 46-person lift.

The project at the QEII terminal follows on from upgrades at the City Cruise Terminal in conjunction with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) in 2014/15. A £1m investment in 2015.

ABP Port Director for Southampton Alastair Welch told the gathering at the opening ceremony: “Liners are getting larger and we need to make sure we are ready for the future.”

He added that further improvements in the terminal were scheduled for the winter when a £1m ship-to-shore walkway will be built to replace the existing link.

This was Mr Welch’s second day in the job - he has come from the aviation sector and was managing director of London Southend Airport.

He admitted that on his first day had committed the cardinal sin of calling a ship ‘a boat’.

It was a busy turn-around day at the port Carnival UK CEO David Noyes informed those at the ceremony.

Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth had all docked that morning after completing world cruises beginning on January 10.

During their voyages the three liners had covered more than 100,000 nautical miles between them, docking at 92 ports in 49 countries.

He said the terminal had seein some significant events during its 50 year history including the departure of the QE2 for the Falklands in 1982.