The Port of Southampton and Carnival UK, the Southampton-based owners of P&O Cruises, have announced a US $15.5-million package of investments aimed at upgrading the current Ocean Terminal to accommodate P&O Iona.
P&O Iona, due for delivery in May, 2020, will be the largest cruise ship ever built specifically for the British cruise market. At 183,900-gross tons and carrying 5,300 passengers, she will exceed the current capacity of Ocean Terminal, Carnival UK said in a statement.
“Bigger ships introduce greater operational complexity and we are pleased to be working alongside ABP and our port community on this series of improvements to the terminal ahead of welcoming Iona in 2020,” said Carnival UK VP port & shore operations, Steven Young.
The upgrades to the terminal will begin this month and are expected to be completed before the end of next year.
Along with infrastructure improvements to the quayside and within the terminal itself, the existing 2,000 roof-mounted solar panel facility will be expanded, further improving the port’s environmental credentials.
“We continually invest in the port to adapt and develop to meet our customers’ growing needs, and we are committed to ensuring that this growth happens in the most environmentally sustainable way,” said ABP Southampton director Alastair Welch. “We are very supportive of cruise lines embracing LNG power for their vessels.”
Iona will be the next generation of P&O Cruises ships, and the first British cruise ship to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), paving the way for the future of cruising.
She is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020 as the first of two new vessels of this class for P&O Cruises. The second, as yet un-named vessel, will be delivered in 2022.
P&O Iona will homeport in Southampton from the Spring of 2020, necessitating a capacity increase at Ocean Terminal of 50%.
Southampton is currently the leading cruise port in Northern Europe, welcoming more than 2-million cruise passengers annually, and contributing US $1.3-billion to the local economy.
Each cruise ship call in Southampton carries around 4,000 passengers on average, with that number growing as cruise lines put ever-larger ships into operation.
P&O’s Britannia, carrying 4,200 passengers, currently homeports in Southampton during the summer, as does the 4,800 passenger Independence of the Seas of Royal Caribbean, while Celebrity Cruises’ newest Edge-class ship Celebrity Apex will sail an inaugural season from Southampton in 2020.