Eleven cruise ships will make their maiden voyage to Southampton in 2019 – up from eight in 2018.

The first will be MSC Bellissima (pictured) which will be welcomed at the port on March 1 with a plaque and key ceremony before the ship’s naming ceremony on March 2.

The traditional plaque and key ceremony has its roots in the Middle Ages, when visiting ships bringing business to Southampton were given the keys to the city walls.

In the spring, Southampton will welcome maiden calls from Celebrity Edge, Sun Princess, Norwegian Spirit and Marella Explorer.

In the summer, Saga’s Spirit of Discovery, Cruise & Maritime’s Vasco De Gama and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Riviera will all make their maiden voyages to Southampton.

Autumn will see the arrival of the World Explorer, Norwegian Encore and MSC Grandiosa.

Alastair Welch, port director at ABP Southampton, said: “Cruise is a strong and growing industry and we are investing significantly in expanding our cruise infrastructure at the port to continue to meet the needs of our customers, long into the future.”

Southampton welcomes about two million passengers each year and each visit to the port generates about £2 million for the economy.