The port of Southampton has partnered with P&O Cruises to accommodate the growing demand for larger ships in a project destined to strengthen its position as Northern Europe’s leading cruise port.

The demand for cruise is on the rise, creating an interest in building larger cruise ships. The port of Southampton is paving the way for the future of cruise with a £12 million partnership investment with P&O Cruises that will soon enable the British port to accommodate larger ships. This investment to support further growth in the cruise sector is already underway, with work having begun last October.

Welcoming Iona

The Ocean Terminal is being upgraded to accommodate the growing demand from cruise lines for ever larger ships to call at Southampton. This work, which will take just over a year to complete, is expected to further strengthen the port’s position as Northern Europe’s leading cruise port.

The project will enable P&O’s newest flagship vessel to home port in Southampton from spring 2020. Iona will be the next generation of P&O cruises ships and is the first British cruise ship to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), making it a pioneer in the industry. Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched next May.

Iona is the first of two new vessels of this class for P&O Cruises, with the next ship on order to be delivered in 2022. The additional work to accommodate these new vessels, each of them with a capacity of 5,200 guests, will increase passenger capacity at the terminal by 50 per cent.

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P&O’s Iona.


Along with infrastructure improvements to the quayside and within the terminal itself, the existing 2,000 roof-mounted solar panel installation will also be expanded, further improving the port’s environmental credentials.

“Cruise is a strong and growing industry. The ships that call at Southampton are increasing in size and we are investing significantly to accommodate future growth in the industry and to maintain our position as Northern Europe’s leading cruise port,” says ABP Southampton director Alastair Welch.

He adds: “We continually invest in the port to adapt and develop to meet our customers’ growing needs, and we are committed to ensuring that this growth happens in the most environmentally sustainable way. We are very supportive of cruise lines embracing LNG power for their vessels.”

Fast facts

  • Southampton is the UK’s number one port for cruise, as well as being the cruise capital of Northern Europe. It currently welcomes more than two million passengers a year on more than 500 cruise calls
  • Southampton has consistently been voted the best UK departure port since 2010
  • In 2018, 18 cruise lines called at Southampton (nine brands and 45 vessels)
  • Carnival UK brands P&O and Cunard home port in Southampton, while a number of lines also home port ships seasonally, including Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Saga and Fred Olsen

What’s on offer

  • Southampton provides four dedicated cruise terminals (Ocean Cruise, QEII, City Cruise and Mayflower Cruise), which offer bespoke services to meet the specific needs of the largest, as well as some of the smallest, cruise ships
  • As the owner of four world-class cruise terminals, the Port of Southampton describes itself as having “a wealth of experience and expertise in providing first-rate services for cruise operators”
  • All four of the dedicated cruise terminals have undergone multi-million-pound refurbishments that enable the port to cater to some of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced ships