April 18, 2007

City sets course for cruise bonanza

The article below appeared in the Southampton UK Daily Echo about the coming summer and how busy this port that is home for Cunard and also the P&O cruise line (both of which are owned by Carnival). It talks about how busy the port is going to be at some points when the Cunard ships are in port..

"IT'S going to be a firework feast, super sailing, cruise calling, passenger packed, Southampton saluting record breaker!

Thousands of sightseers are expected to crowd the shoreline of Southampton Water as some of the newest, largest and most famous vessels in the world gather on the city's waterfront in a spectacular, week long cavalcade of shipping.

Never before in the city's long history as a port, has the waterfront been as busy as it will be when the docks becomes the showcase for an unprecedented number of cruise ships next week.
Among the ships that will tower high over dockland will be the brand new Liberty of the Seas, the latest addition to Royal Caribbean International's rapidly expanding fleet, Navigator of the Seas, which is about to start a summer long season in Southampton and Ocean Village Two, with its distinctive pink and orange livery, which will set sail on her maiden voyage from the port.
Together with calls made by Southampton regulars such as Queen Mary 2, Oceana, Aurora, Arcadia, Artemis, Saga Ruby, Boudicca and Sea Princess it all adds up to the busiest passenger ship period ever seen in Southampton.

For many the highspot of the week will be on Thursday, April 26 when, at about 10am, Liberty of the Seas sails past the equally impressive, Navigator of the Seas and the two huge vessels boom out a salute that will echo across the city. Later that day, at 5pm, Navigator of the Seas leaves for a two-night mini-cruise to France and back.

The amount of tonnage and passenger numbers during Southampton's so called "Golden Era'' of ocean travel, more than half a century ago, pales into insignificance when compared to present day statistics.

For example the gross tonnage of the ships in port next Tuesday will total 439,363 tonnes with a return passenger capacity of 20,440. This figure is double that of 50 years ago when Southampton had eight dedicated passenger terminals but only had to cope with a maximum gross tonnage of 240,000 at full capacity.

This Saturday signals the start of the hectic schedule that sees the port welcome a total of 15 vessels and handle 19 cruise ship and liner movements.Together the ships will have a capacity of 77,600 passengers, which means that in one week the docks will cope with 40 per cent of the passenger traffic it received during the entire 12 months of 1997, a year when 191,000 people passed through the port.

Activity will peak next Tuesday when the vast Liberty of the Seas, Cunard's QM2 together with P&O Cruises' Oriana are all in port together with Ocean Village Two, which will be officially named that day.

Ocean Village Two, the second vessel to be brought into service by the Southampton based company, is set to arrive in Southampton for the first time tomorrow but as yet a time has not been finalised. She will leave the following day at 8pm for a short two-night "shake-down'' voyage, returning on Saturday.

The ship, designed to appeal to passengers looking for an informal, casual cruise, will be officially named on Tuesday, April 24 by supermodel, Jodie Kidd and her sister, the celebrity make-up artist, Jemma Kidd, who will together smash the traditional bottle of champagne over the decks of Ocean Village Two.

The following day, Ocean Village Two will leave on her maiden voyage from Southampton for Palma, Majorca where she will be based throughout the summer.
Peter Shanks, Ocean Village's managing director, said: "We are thrilled to be part of this record-breaking week.

"Not only is it historic for Southampton but Ocean Village Two will also be making history as the first British ship to boast two godmothers.'' Ray Facey, Southampton's assistant port manager, said: " It is an extremely exciting time for the port. Every year the cruise industry in the UK increases in capacity and in popularity and next week, particularly the Tuesday, is a testament to how far the cruise market has grown over the last ten years.

"As the UK's leading passenger ship port this is great news for Southampton and for the local economy in terms of job creation and tourism.'' This Saturday Queen Elizabeth 2 and Celebrity Cruises' Millennium will arrive early in the morning and then depart again at 5pm and 6pm respectively.

Liberty of the Seas, the joint biggest cruise ship in the world and sister to Freedom of the Seas, which called at the city last year, will make her dramatic entrance on Sunday when she makes her way through the Solent and up Southampton Water to berth at the City Cruise Terminal, next door to Mayflower Park, at 7am.

At 9.45pm that evening and, at the same time, on Monday a glittering firework display will light up the night sky over Liberty of the Seas. More fireworks will soar into the air on Tuesday evening, this time at 9pm, before the ship leaves for a two-night cruise at 10pm.
Sunday will also see the arrival and departure of P&O Cruises' Oceana at 38/9 berth in the Eastern Docks and Aurora at the Mayflower Terminal in the Western Docks.

On Monday, April 23 Arcadia and Artemis, both part of P&O Cruises' Southampton based fleet, arrive first thing in the morning before embarking passengers later in the afternoon.

Saga Ruby and Constellation are in port on Wednesday, April 25, Saga Rose arrives and departs the following day and on Friday the Fred Olsen Cruise Line ship, Boudicca is set to make a call.
Navigator of the Seas returns to port on Saturday and leaves again at 5pm while Princess Cruises' ship, Sea Princess is due to leave at the same time.

All the dates and times are correct as of today but changes to scheduled arrivals and departures can happen."


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