A fifth cruise terminal will open in Southampton for the 2021 season, following a strategic partnership between Associated British Ports, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
The terminal in the city’s Western Docks will be “next-generation-ready”, allowing it to accommodate 6,000-passenger ships.
ABP confirmed it would be ready for the start of the 2021 season – however, it remains unclear when cruises will resume from the UK with the Foreign Office currently advising against all ocean cruising.
When it opens, the £55 million terminal will feature roof-mounted solar power and shore power connectivity. It has received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with an £8 million grant through the government’s Getting Building Fund.
Both NCLH and MSC Cruises have committed to sailing from the terminal, with MSC agreeing to homeport at least one ship for the duration of what it described as a “long-term” agreement, starting in 2021 with MSC Magnifica in its second full ex-UK season.
Alastair Welch, director of ABP Southampton, said: “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.
“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.”
Robert Courts, maritime minister said: “Southampton is the heart of UK’s cruising industry and a new terminal will create even more jobs and boost the area’s economy.
“As we continue to support the cruise sector in its restart and recovery, it’s great to see government funding being used to help deliver better services for passengers. This next-generation facility also showcases to ports around the world how we’re pioneering the use of green technology right here in the UK.”
Steve Moeller, senior vice-president of commercial development at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said: “This agreement marks the continuation of the strong partnership between Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and the Port of Southampton and demonstrates our commitment to the region.
“Consistent with our commitment to driving a positive impact on society and the environment, we are pleased to further promote environmental conservancy by partnering with Associated British Ports for the new terminal that will feature shore power and roof-mounted solar power.”
Gianni Onorato, chief executive of MSC Cruises, said: “We are really proud to be further supporting the UK cruise industry at this incredibly important time for both the industry and the UK economy. At MSC Cruises we really believe in the potential of the UK cruise market and making this long-term commitment is evidence of that.”
“Over the last five years MSC Cruises has increased our presence in the UK & Irish markets and following a positive response from travel agents and our guests we feel now is the right time to make a more substantial commitment.
“We are in a unique position that not only will we be committing to having an MSC Cruises’ ship home port from Southampton every year, but several of our ships will be visiting Southampton as a destination as part of our wider cruise programme.”
Antonio Paradiso, managing director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland, said: “Whilst we’ve always had loyal passengers from the UK & Ireland, over the last five years we’ve been on a real journey in the UK market.
“We were delighted to see such strong organic growth which lead to our first ever full season sailing from the UK in 2018, followed by the naming ceremony of MSC Bellissima in the port of Southampton bringing guests from around the world to the city to celebrate the milestone event in 2019. We ended 2019 with the most successful year of sales ever in the UK & Ireland, something we are incredibly proud of.”
He added: “MSC Cruises is serious about the UK market and now more than ever we believe in the potential here and making this long-term commitment to bringing even more passengers to Southampton is evidence of that.
“In 2017 we invested in a new office in the UK, we then focused on growing our teams and putting the right expertise in place to ensure we can provide the best possible support to our passengers and our travel agent partners, and now we are really proud to be further investing in the UK cruise industry at this incredibly important time for both the industry and the UK economy in having a home for our ships here in the UK.”
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