SOUTHAMPTON Port has received a massive boost after a major cruise company announced it is coming to the city.

Thomson Cruises’ ship Tui Discovery will homeport in Southampton port for the first time next year as part of its 2018 programme.

The 35,000-tonne ship, which is capable of carrying 2,000 passengers, will be stationed in the city from next September, operating four new itineraries - Fantastic Fjords, Baltic Treasures, European Experience and Seeking the Northern Lights.

The European Experience itinerary will visit the northern coasts of Germany, Belgium and France, with an overnight onboard stay in Amsterdam ,while Seeking the Northern Lights will take customers to Tromso and Bergen in Norway, both for eight nights.

The eight-night Fantastic Fjords will visit cities including Stavanger, Skjolden and Flam while the 14-night Baltic Treasures tour will visit destinations across the Baltic sea including Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki in Finland.

Richard Sofer, managing director of Thomson Cruises, said: “We’re excited to have TUI Discovery based in Southampton next September. As one of the country’s busiest and most successful ports, Southampton seemed like a natural choice and the perfect hub for TUI Discovery.

“The move will offer customers more choice and flexibility with the opportunity to sail from a region close to home.”

Alastair Welch, ABP director, of Southampton Port, said: “As northern Europe’s leading cruise turn around port, we have seen the appetite for cruise holidays continue to grow.

“We are very pleased that Thomson has chosen to base their new ship TUI Discovery in Southampton in autumn 2018, to offer increased choice to their guests, and allow them to experience first hand the benefits of cruising from Southampton.”

He said Southampton is expected to welcome 500 cruise calls this year with a £2.5m boost to the local economy every time a ship arrives in the city.

Adam Coulter, editor of the cruise reviews and planning site Cruise Critic, said: “For travellers, being able to sail from a regional port like Southampton offers a convenient holiday option, enabling them to visit beautiful overseas destinations without having to step foot in an airport.”

Previously, the ship, built in 1996, was operated by Royal Caribbean International as Splendour of the Seas offering trips to South America in winter cruises to the eastern Mediterranean during summer.