Southampton is gearing up for Fifth Terminal opening in spring
Robert Courts MP, minister for maritime, Department for Transport, commented: “Southampton is the heart of UK’s cruising industry and a new terminal will create even more jobs and boost the area’s economy.
“As we continue to support the cruise sector in its restart and recovery, it’s great to see government funding being used to help deliver better services for passengers. This next- generation facility also showcases to ports around the world how we’re pioneering the use of green technology right here in the UK.”
MSC Cruises (MSC) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) are key players, having put agreements in place which signals a long term partnership with the UK’s south coast port. As the industry struggles to resume operations, this display of confidence in the future of cruising in Southampton is welcome news, not just locally but in the wider cruise world.
At the heart of the project has been sustainability, both in terms of environmental credentials but also in terms of the port’s continued position as the UK’s number one cruise port handling two million passengers annually prior to Covid-19.
Alastair Welch, director ABP Southampton, said: “We’re very pleased to announce this major advance in our cruise infrastructure at the port, delivering further access to Southampton for the industry, whilst supporting our commitment to accelerate improvements in local air quality.”
Cruise Europe caught up with Rebekah Keeler, head of cruise at ABP, to find out more. “We have been working with a number of parties, but particularly MSC and NCLH, for a number of years to ensure we can create a real terminal that can stand the test of time and really support the cruise industry going forward, whatever that might look like.
“We have had support from the government to get this through, particularly re shore power, which is very important for us. In 2018 we set our goal to try and bring shore power to the port but it is quite challenging to get the right infrastructure so that all vessels can connect.” Although it will not be mandatory for vessels to do so, it is an option for those vessels that wish to, and can do so.
Importantly the source of power from the supplier will be green. The quayside infrastructure can support one ship at a time, whatever the size of ship, the type or situation of the connection. Keeler comments: “It will be ready for whatever the next generation looks like,” whilst adding that securing the power supply and the grid has been difficult due to the heavy power loads required by a cruiseship in port.
When it comes to terminal design, “sustainability has been at the forefront of construction”, with the project achieving *BREEAM Excellent certification standards. While full details of just what has been incorporated to deliver on sustainability are not ready for disclosure, the fact that roof solar panels are part of the mix is. Keeler says the building will be creating more energy than it is using and that this is most likely going to be distributed through the port-wide network.
The Fifth Cruise Terminal is situated on an existing quay located within the western docks, next to City Cruise Terminal and near dock gate 10, road and rail. An existing building is being removed enabling the terminal to be seen from the city.
The plan is to open in spring when the hope is that cruiseships will once again set sail from the port.
Although designed for 6,000 passengers and hence next-generation ready, it has also been planned as a flexible facility able to accommodate everything from smaller vessels with traditional check-in to larger ones with, for example remote/mobile checkin etc.
Discussing Southampton’s role during the pandemic, it is clear that the supply chain has adapted to the new needs with efficiency. Good relationships have strengthened, resulting in the port being able to fulfil all the requirements that have been put their way including crew repatriation. Keeler comments: “We are fortunate that we have been working together for a number of years, but certainly it has meant that we have proven to ourselves if noone else that, even when things are more challenging and circumstances change, we can put our best foot forward and lead the requirements of the industry. We have also had really positive discussions with government around the restart.”
Southampton continues to support ongoing layup and maintenance of vessels whether at quay or anchorage or coming in from elsewhere in northern Europe for checkup and bunkering. In conclusion Keeler says: “We have adapted but we are looking forward to welcoming millions of passengers back to Southampton and seeing colleagues face to face again.” A sentiment that rings true with us all.
*BREEAM is an international scheme that provides independent third party certification of the assessment of the sustainability performance of individual buildings, communities and infrastructure projects.