New Carbon Neutral Terminal Receives First Cruise Ship

The new terminal in Portsmouth has welcomed its first ship and is making strong strides toward industry sustainability.

On Sunday, August 20, 2023, Portsmouth’s ground-breaking sustainable cruise ship passenger terminal saw the first vessel visit the new facility. Port authorities hope this call will be the first of over 100 visits to this environmentally-focused, net carbon-neutral terminal during the 2024 season.

Portsmouth International Port: An Energy Generating Terminal

Portsmouth International Port had the honor of hosting passengers from luxury line Saga Cruise’s 58,250-ton Meyer Werft-built ship Spirit of Discovery. The ship and its guests became the inaugural beneficiaries of the port’s revolutionary new terminal extension. 

The extension is currently operating at net carbon neutrality, with more exciting, conservation-themed developments slated for the future.

“From the start of this development we were determined to retain our environmental values, however, we have now exceeded our ambitions and the new terminal extension with its sophisticated engineering is on track to generate more energy than it uses,” said Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port’s director.

This transformative project, which took 18 months to complete, is valued at £11.25 million ($14.34 million USD), and has a stated goal of revitalizing Portsmouth’s tourism sector.

Portsmouth New Terminal
Portsmouth New Terminal (Photo Credit: Portsmouth International Port)

“Our Masterplan has focused efforts towards a sustainable future that aims to be the first carbon-neutral port by 2030, we’re able to do this by working alongside innovative industries and partners who share our vision,” Sellers added.

Through innovative environmental engineering the port uses seawater for temperature regulation, which is a first in the UK. Furthermore, the green technology is complemented and supported by wind and solar power, as well as “green walls” that purify the air. 

The extension can generate surplus energy, surpassing its own consumption needs. In other words, this terminal is headed toward carbon positivity, not just neutrality, which goes a long way toward meeting and exceeding sustainability goals in the cruising industry.

A Port Growing in Size and Capacity

The port can now process cruise ships up to 300 meters (984 feet) in length, as well as serve as an additional ferry departure point. Portsmouth tends to target the boutique, luxury, and exploratory end of the cruise market sector. The new terminal’s architecture — an exclusive lounge, a scenic sky garden, etc. — reflects this upscale vibe, which visitors should notice upon arrival.

Moreover, the terminal will be able to deal with the arrival of an additional 2,000 passengers to Portsmouth, adding to the port’s call capacity. 

Portsmouth International Port
Photo Credit: Mystic Stock Photography / Shutterstock

Port management and the city hope to double the number of cruise ships visiting annually, bumping that number up to 100 vessels or more in 2024, which could add a quarter-million passengers visiting the city.

“We have been fortunate to see a variety of new cruise ships visit Portsmouth for the first time, as well as repeat calls from major brands,” said Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth city council member.

Saga Cruise Line is a British-based company that tailors to more mature customers, typically over 50 years old. Spirit of Discovery used the terminal to embark on a 15-day, roundtrip Western Mediterranean voyage, visiting ports like Cadiz, Cagliari, Sardinia, and Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

Ships that have been, and will continue to utilize these new port facilities in 2023 and 2024 include Oceania Cruises’ 66,084-ton Oceania Riviera, Viking Cruises’ 47,800-ton Viking Neptune, and Seabourn Cruises’ 40,350-ton Seabourn Ovation.

Oceania Riviera Cruise Ship
Courtesy: Oceania Cruises

“The port is integral to Portsmouth and supports our ambitions to become a leading marine and maritime city, providing opportunities for residents and high-quality experiences for visitors,” Vernon-Jackson also remarked.

As an important component of a successful £20 million ($25+ million) proposal, the new port terminal should significantly enhance the local economy. Cruise visits could inject as much as £1.5 million ($1.9 million) annually via fees and passenger spending, along with the services and supplies the city provides to docked cruise ships.

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