WORK on a £12m upgrade of one Southampton's cruise terminals has started.

Construction is now underway at the Ocean Cruise Terminal which is to undergo improvements ahead of the next generation of even larger ships.

Among those ship will be new P&O ship Iona, which will be powered by LNG (liquid natural gas) and will make Southampton its home port from May 2020.

Iona currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.


CGI of the new P&O cruise ship Iona

She is the first of two new vessels of this class for P&O Cruises, with the next ship on order to be delivered in 2022. The additional work to accommodate these new vessels, each of them with a capacity of 5,200 guests, will increase the passenger capacity at the terminal by 50 per cent.

Along with infrastructure improvements to the quayside and the terminal itself, the existing 2,000 roof-mounted solar panel facility will be expanded, improving the port’s environmental credentials.

The work, which is a joint project between port owner ABP and P&O, is expected to take just over a year.

Representatives from ABP, P&O's parent company Carnival UK, and contractors, Graham, came together to mark the start of the work.


The Ocean Cruise Terminal which is to be upgraded to cater for the next generation of ships

ABP Southampton Director, Alastair Welch, said: “Cruise is a strong and growing industry. The ships that call in Southampton are increasing in size and we are investing significantly to accommodate future growth in the industry and to maintain our position as Northern Europe’s leading cruise port.

“We are pleased to be breaking-ground on this important project with P&O Cruises.”

Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “Today was an important step in preparing the Ocean Terminal for significant upgrades which will give our guests across all our brands as well as the smoothest, most efficient embarkation experience and the very best start to their holiday.”

Southampton currently welcomes more than million passengers each year on more than 500 cruise calls and each visit to the port generates more than £2 million for the local economy.