(2:40 p.m. EST) -- Good news for would-be seafarers: Plans were unveiled today for a fifth cruise terminal at Southampton
. The new facility will cost £30 million, but according to estimates by Associated British Ports (ABP), which operates the port, it could boost the economy by £150 million a year.
Work will start on the new structure in 2011, with an expected completion date in 2013. According to an ABP statement, the terminal is designed to handle the biggest ships afloat (many of which, like Royal Caribbean
's Independence of the Seas
's Queen Mary 2
, already use Southampton as their home base). It'll be situated near the current Fruit Terminal, a cargo facility at Berth 104. Inasmuch as it will be directly located between the Mayflower Cruise Terminal and the City Cruise Terminal, Southampton's waterfront could be lined with cruise ships on busy days.
Southampton is not quite bursting at the seams yet when it comes to cruise ships -- but the new terminal, port director Doug Morrison told the Daily Echo
newspaper, is an investment for the future. "We don't see business grow and then think we had better build something to deal with it. This is about future growth," he said.
The city is certainly on a roll: This year will see more than 300 cruise ship calls, rising to 360 in 2011. That said, there remains competition from other British ports. Portsmouth, just down the road from Southampton, is attracting niche cruise lines like Swan Hellenic
to its own new terminal, while in the north, Liverpool
is campaigning hard for more cruise ship turnarounds.
Still, these are relatively small fry compared with Southampton, and as Morrison said in a press statement today: "The building of a fifth cruise terminal will cement our position at the forefront of the European cruise industry."
-- by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor