While the cruise industry remains sidelined due to the pandemic, ports are continuing to make significant investments in anticipation of a strong rebound in the industry. Associated British Ports became the latest to announce plans for a significant investment designed to ensure Southampton’s role in the future of the industry.
Costing nearly $75 million, Southampton is buildings its fifth terminal dedicated to cruise ships. ABP said it is an investment into the long-term future of cruising designed to strengthen the Port of Southampton’s position as Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port and the UK’s number one departure port.
“This investment is a huge vote of confidence in the future of cruise in Southampton and we’re excited to be at the forefront of a growing industry,” said Alastair Welch, Director of ABP Southampton. “We’re very pleased to announce this major advance in our cruise infrastructure at the port, delivering further access to Southampton for the industry, whilst supporting our commitment to accelerate improvements in local air quality.
The new terminal is being termed “next-generation-ready,” incorporating several environmentally sensitive features. It will feature roof-mounted solar power and will also have shore power connectivity installed so that the cruise ships can cold iron while in port. The terminal has been designed to meet the needs of the cruising industry supporting the next generation of ships in terms of size, capacity, and technology.
The project received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Government’s Getting Building Fund with a grant of more than $10 million.
“Whilst both the Council and the LEP continue to work with businesses facing a very challenging winter, we are committed to ensuring we can emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with the strongest foundations for future growth,” said Councillor Christopher Hammond, Solent LEP Director and Leader of Southampton City Council.
While the new terminal will be an open terminal it has been developed in coordination with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Concurrent with the announcement of the terminal, MSC Cruises signed a long-term agreement with ABP Southampton. Starting in the summer of 2021, MSC will homeport one of its cruise ships at the port’s new fifth terminal. Also, the cruise line said it plans to have at least one vessel dedicated to the UK’s main cruise port in the future. In 2021, the MSC Magnifica is scheduled to homeport in Southampton sailing to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Southampton ranks as one of Europe’s leading cruise ports. In 2019, approximately two million passengers passed through the port. Southampton had expected more than 500 cruise ship calls in 2020 with a record number of maiden calls and three planned christening ceremonies for the year before the global suspension of cruising.
By making the current investments, Southampton’s goal is to maintain its role when cruising resumes although by all expectations the business will build back slowly possibly taking two or three years to return to the 2019 levels.
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