A POPULAR cruise line are to pull one of their ships from Southampton for the whole of the 2020 cruising season.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Independence of the Seas is to be pulled from the city’s port, with the vessel being based in America instead.

Due to popular booking interest in the company’s new Caribbean private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, the ship will now sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Last year, the ship visited Southampton 37 times between May and November and has been operating out of Southampton for 12 years.

It is estimated that each ship visit is worth £2m to the local economy.

Ben Bouldin, AVP and managing director, Royal Caribbean International UK and Ireland, said guests affected by the itinerary change will be “offered full refunds” and a ‘future cruise credit’ for use on alternative sailings.

He noted that the popular Quantum Class ship Anthem of the Seas will return to the UK market for 2020, adding more “options for guests” sailing from Southampton.

A spokesperson from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line said: “Responding to strong booking interest in its exciting new Caribbean private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International has announced a 2020 deployment change for Independence of the Seas.

“The ship will now sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, rather than Southampton.”

The iconic ship returned to Southampton in 2018 after a a multi-million pound makeover.

The make-over meant that UK holidaymakers could enjoy the vessel’s new family features with the added convenience of sailing from Southampton.

Other features added to the ship included a new Sky Pad; a virtual reality bungee-trampoline experience that transports guests to another time and planet via a virtual reality headset; interactive waterpark, Splashaway Bay; an all-new Escape Room; and a glow-in-the-dark Laser Tag arena.