The Solent Forum

Working in partnership for the future

Shipping and Cruising

The Port of Southampton supports 45,600 jobs and contributes £2.5 billion to the nation’s economy every year. As the UK’s number one export port, Southampton handles exports worth £40 billion annually, including £36 billion destined for markets outside the EU.The five-berth Southampton Container Terminal, operated by DP World, is the most productive container terminal in the UK. In 2014, the purpose-built SCT 5 opened, providing 500m of quay and 16m water depth, making it capable of handling the largest container vessels in the world. The Southampton Vessel Traffic Service provides information on the ships calling at the port. 

In 1840 the first P&O passenger vessel sailed into Southampton and marked the start of what was to become the cruise capital of the UK. Today increasing numbers of ships are calling into Southampton, it has the majority share of the UK cruise market and welcomes two million passengers per year.  It is home to the UK fleets of both P&O Cruises and Cunard Line (part of the Carnival Group) and is also used regularly by Royal Caribbean International, Fred Olsen Cruise Line and Saga Holidays.   

In 2022, The Port of Southampton received 489 cruise calls. In total, teams supported 600 cruise days in Southampton, with ships spending an additional 111 days alongside without passenger operations. The port also began providing shore power at its Horizon and Mayflower cruise terminals in the spring and has since supplied 15 ships with power on 42 separate occasions.

The cruise ships calling at Portsmouth International Port are small to medium size. The new terminal building was opened in May 2011.  The port is marketing itself as small and medium sized niche operators.

In 2023, Wightlink's fleet of six vehicle ferries and two foot passenger catamarans transported more than 3.8 million people between the Isle of Wight and the mainland ports of Portsmouth and Lymington.

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