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 2024, The Port of Southampton will receive over 500 cruise calls. The port has begun providing shore power for liners at its Horizon and Mayflower cruise terminals.

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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