Major Homeport Sets New Cruise Ship Record in May

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The Associated British Ports (ABP) has reported the Port of Southampton, located on the southern coast of England, welcomed a record number of cruise vessels in May 2024, marking a high point for the start of the 2024 cruise season.

The port saw 26 different cruise ships making a total of 71 calls with more than 400,000 passengers. 

“What a fantastic month May was,” said Thea George, senior cruise manager for ABP. “We’ve had a great start to the year with January to April seeing an increase in cruise calls as the months progress, and our summer season has started in earnest with a record 71 calls to the port in May.”

Cruise Ships in Southampton
Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock

He continued, “It is great to see so many passengers come to our city and travel out of the port on some of the most luxurious cruise ships.”

Southampton’s summer season kicked off strong, with Cunard Line’s Queen Anne maiden voyage with much fanfare on May 3 and five large ships arriving at the port on May 18 alone. Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Star, MSC Cruises MSC Virtuosa, P&O Cruises’ Aurora and Iona, and TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff each arrived before 7 a.m. They did not depart until after 4 p.m., bringing a total of 24,580 passengers and crew to town on the super Saturday.

That weekend also saw the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s 4,900-passenger Anthem of the Seas, Princess Cruises’ 3,660-passenger Sky Princess and 3,140-passenger Caribbean Princess, and NCL’s Norwegian Dawn, with 2,340 passengers.

Strategic Investments and Volunteer Program Elevate Southampton Port

The Port of Southampton’s success reflects its strategic investments, including its recent dedicated infrastructure and shore power initiative. In May, 20% of cruise ship visits utilized shore power, reducing emissions and advancing the port toward achieving zero emissions while ships are docked.

The popular homeport also joined forces this year with GO! Southampton, which launched a new Welcome Volunteer Program that stations volunteers at the port’s five cruise terminals to guide passengers and help them make the most of their visit.

Said Stephen Manion, managing director at GO! Southampton, “It is amazing to see so many cruise passengers arrive in the city, and now we have a great initiative to make sure they are supported during their stay and can see the best of the City Centre.”

Dedicated cruise terminals at the port include City Cruise Terminal, the oldest of the terminals, often used by British-operated Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruises, and the Horizon Cruise Terminal, where Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises depart.

Southampton Port
Southampton Port (Photo Credit: Chris Jenner)

Carnival Corporation, which owns Celebrity Cruises, owns the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal for P&O Cruises and Cunard Cruise Line. It also utilizes the Mayflower and Ocean terminals for its Princess Cruises, Cunard, and P&O Cruises brands.

Read Also: UK Cruise Tourism Celebrates Remarkable Rebound

The record number of cruise ship visits in May is a significant boost for the local economy. In 2023, the port welcomed 2.75 million passengers, generating over £1 billion for the city. The port is on track to surpass these figures in 2024, as nearly 1 million cruise passengers have already visited the port in 2024.

The Port of Southampton will receive 59 ship calls in June and 221 additional calls through October. However, the port is not expected to break May’s record again in 2024. Princess Cruises’ Sky Princess is the next ship to return to Southampton on June 15.

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