More than 500 ship calls helped the port of Southampton attract a record breaking two million cruise passengers in 2017.

And numbers are set to rise further this year with a number of ships calling into Southampton for the first time.

These include Aida Perla, Norwegian Bliss, MSC Meraviglia, Sapphire Princess, MS Zuiderdam; Seven Seas Navigator and MS Koningsdam.

The port expects eight maiden cruise ship calls and the naming ceremony for Azamara Pursuit in 2018.

Every time a cruise ship visits Southampton, it is estimated to bring a cash boost of £2 million to the local economy.

The port will experience a six-ship day on August 31 when Arcadia, Aurora, Braemar, Independence of the Seas, Mein Schiff 3 and Queen Victoria will all be alongside in Southampton.

The busiest long weekend ever was when 15 cruise ships visited the port in June last year.

Azamara Pursuit will be christened in Southampton in a first for Azamara Club Cruises.

The line’s other two ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, missed out on official naming ceremonies as they went straight into service after their original refurbishments.

There will be a two-night celebratory cruise following the naming of Azamara Pursuit on August 28.

The ship is currently sailing for P&O Cruises as Adonia and was acquired by Azamara in September.

Azamara chief operating officer Carol Cabezas said “This ship has a very strong British heritage and it has a fantastic following here. Plus we have seen a tremendous amount of demand from the UK audience.

“We’ve never had a christening in our brand’s history and we want to do that in Southampton.”

Alastair Welch, Southampton director of ports operator ABP, said: “2017 was a record-breaking year for the Port of Southampton and 2018 looks set to be even busier.

“A huge amount of work goes into ensuring all passengers transit our facilities with the greatest of ease and it is testament to our whole port community that two million cruise passengers receive Southampton’s world class service.”