Southampton can reflect on a record-breaking cruise year, with more than £1 billion generated for the city. Southampton, the UK’s biggest cruise port, received over 450 cruise ship calls, welcoming over 2.6 million passengers.

2023 has been the most successful year in history for the UK’s busiest cruise port, Southampton. The Associated British Ports announced on January 1, 2024, that the port generated more than £1 billion in 2023, benefitting Southampton and the wider Hampshire area.

More than 460 cruise ships called at the port in 2023, bringing with them 2.6 million cruise passengers. It makes Southampton one of the leading cruise ports in Europe, and the largest by a significant margin in Western Europe. 

Stephen Manion, Executive Director of Go Southampton:Cruise passengers are a massively important part of Southampton and Hampshire’s tourist economy. 

‘Cruisers’ tend to be higher spending visitors than the average and across a wider range of categories. We look forward to working with the Port of Southampton to increase not just the numbers of visitors but their ability to access the City and all that it has to offer.”  

The main areas where the industry made significant contributions to the local economy included the hospitality industry, including hotels and restaurants, transportation such as taxis, hired cars, public transport and busses, stevedoring services during loading operations and other port operations, and fuel bunkering.

Cruise Ships Docked in Southampton, UK (Photo Credit: Ben Gingell / Shutterstock)

Altogether, the cruise industry supported over 15,000 jobs in 2023 in Southampton across its five different cruise terminals, which also includes the new Horizon Terminal. The cruise sector is one of the biggest employers in the region, generating income from several industries, including hotels, transportation, fuel supply, and port operations.

Alastair Welch, ABP Regional Director, Southampton: “We are proud of the role we play in supporting the local, regional, and national economy. While this is a record year for cruise in the City, we continue to invest in this and other port-related sectors to ensure long-term success for our Port City.”

While winter might not be the best time to go cruising in Western Europe, Southampton remains busy, with several cruise ships scheduled for calls during the first four months of the year.

Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock

MSC Euribia, Queen Victoria, AidaNova, Queen Mary 2, Iona, Norwegian Joy, Sky Princess, Arvia, Jewel of the Seas, Regal Princess, MSC Virtuosa, MSC Poesia, and many moreare all scheduled for visits through April 30. In all, 50 cruise ship calls are scheduled to Southampton Port between January 3, 2024, and April 30, 2024.

From April, the port will be significantly busier as the weather around Europe improves. In May, 66 calls are scheduled at the port, 58 calls are scheduled in June, 51 in July, and 68 in August. Between September 1 and December 31, 2024, another 162 calls are scheduled to take place, a number that will likely increase even further.

Southampton can look forward to an even more successful cruise year, with more and more cruise ships and cruise passengers finding their way to one of Europe’s most convenient cruise ports.

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