UK’s Biggest Cruise Port Looks Ahead to Busy 2023

Southampton, the biggest cruise port in the UK, can look back at what has been a successful 2022, and ahead to an even busier 2023.

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The Port of Southampton, located on the southern coast of England, had a successful year of cruise operations in 2022. The port supported 600 cruise days (one day for each day a cruise ship was in port), including 489 cruise calls and 111 days ships spent alongside without passenger operations. 

The UK’s most popular port welcomed several cruise ships for the first time and hosted eight plaque and key ceremonies to honor maiden calls from various cruise ships. While 2022 was a huge success, the port now looks forward to an even more successful 2023. 

Southampton Cruise Port’s Full Recovery

The Port of Southampton had a successful year in 2022, with a record number of cruise operations. Northern Europe’s and the UK’s biggest embarkation port handled a total of 489 ships, amounting to 1,899,654 passengers passing through the port between January and December. 

The port held several plaque exchanges and key ceremonies throughout the year to honor maiden calls from different cruise ships. These included Azamara Onward, Celebrity Beyond, Silver Moon, Norwegian Prima, Aida Perla, Aida Cosma, and Enchanted Princess. These visits prove the vital part Southampton plays in Europe’s industry.

Port of Southampton
Port of Southampton

In December, the port also celebrated the arrival of P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Arvia, and hosted her naming ceremony on December 21.

As the sister ship to Iona, Arvia is a 180,000 gross-tons excel-class ship with a capacity of 5,200 guests. She will homeport in Southampton, one of the few ports in Europe equipped to handle LNG-powered ships. 

Rebekah Keeler, Head of Cruise at Associated British Ports: “We’re proud to provide award-winning cruise operational support year-round to the world’s biggest and smallest cruise ships. Alongside this, our ongoing roll out of our air quality strategy sees us take huge strides in facilitating zero emissions at berth. Supported by our port-based cruise services providers, we look forward to another successful year in 2023.” 

Southampton Expects to be Even Busier in 2023

The Port of Southampton is looking ahead to an even more successful year in 2023, with 492 cruise calls from 292 cruise ships and maiden calls from seven new cruise ships, including the MSC Explora 1 and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Nova.

The MSC Explora 1 is a 64,000 gross tons ultra-luxury cruise ship that sails under the same parent company as MSC Cruises. The 248-meter-long vessel can carry 992 passengers. Silver Nova is Silverseas’ newest ultra-luxury cruise ship and the first hybrid-powered vessel in the world.

Carnival Celebration in Southampton, UK
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Altogether, the 292 cruise ships are expected to bring well over 2 million passengers to Southampton. This would put Southampton in the top ten of the biggest cruise ports in the world. 

Promoting Air Quality Initiatives

While the growth is certainly good for the economy, the environment does suffer from the massive influx of ships to the Port of Southampton. It has therefore committed itself to promoting air quality initiatives and, in the spring, switched on Shore Power at two of its five cruise terminals, the Horizon and Mayflower. 

This allowed 15 ships to reduce emissions entirely while in port a total of 42 times in 2022. This effort is a significant step towards reducing the environmental impact of cruise ships and one that will see substantial increases in 2023.

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