Mike Jones, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. strategic operations officer, and Stuart Leven, managing director of UK and Ireland RCI, made an announcement onboard Harmony of the Seas during an official plaques and keys ceremony.
The strategic deal is worth £200m to the local economy, according to the line.
The £5.5 million investment has so far enabled ABP (Associated British Ports), owner and operator of port of Southampton, to get the terminal ready for a new generation of ships heralded by the latest addition to Royal Caribbean’s fleet.
Terminal's improvements have been designed to enhance embarkation experiences for both passengers and crew including new paperless check-in and a kerb-to-gangway processing of ten minutes.
Other improvements include layout and security screening areas, step-free-access to ships up to Quantum Class, free wi-fi throughout the terminal, digital signage and ‘wow walls’. New air-conditioning has been installed and port staff will welcome improved logistics to enable the port to handle up to 500t of stores. Leven commented:
'Each year, more than 1.5m holidaymakers either start or end their cruise holidays in Southampton, making the port Europe’s largest cruise ship hub. Such a busy passenger hub deserves best-in-class facilities and at Royal Caribbean we are constantly looking for ways to improve the passenger experience. I want our passengers’ extraordinary adventure to begin the moment they arrive at the Port, before they even step onboard the ship.'
Alastair Welch, ABP Southampton director, said:
'We are delighted to confirm that the port of Southampton will be the official UK home of Royal Caribbean until 2023. This deal will secure the port’s reputation as the UK’s number one and leading European turnaround port long into the future. Equally, it is great news for the UK economy, and the landmark deal can only increase the significant contribution cruise makes to the 15,000 jobs and £1bn economic contribution of the port.'