My second favourite terminal is getting a much needed £6 million facelift after Associated British Ports and Carnival signed a new contract. Berth 106 opened in 1960 to welcome the return of P&O when they based their brand new Oriana and Canberra here and until the merger with Carnival Corporation, it was regarded as their terminal. When I went on Artemis, she and Oriana shared the terminal, check-in desks split between the ships. These days, certain cruise lines have you head straight onto the ship so you miss the lovely departure lounge. We enjoyed it, Oriana’s avoided, and we boarded via the dock.
Southampton has four terminals and there is still talk of a fifth. My favourite is the QEII Terminal, which opened in 1966 and revamped in 2003 ready for Queen Mary 2. A lot of people don’t like it, calling it a tin shed, but it has character newer ones don’t. My very first cruise was from there in 2006 when I sailed on the QE2 with my friend Rowan and I am always thrilled to board any ship there.
City Cruise Terminal opened in 2003 and was the former Windward fruit terminal. Fred Olsen ships mainly used it. When Royal Caribbean announced they would be basing the 137,000 tonne Navigator of the Seas here in 2007, the terminal went through an upgrade, doubling in size, to incorporate the extra passengers. More recently, it handled Oasis of the Seas but due to boarding passengers ignoring the request not to arrive before 4pm, it was apparently chaos. Also the brand new Quantum of the Seas called for a few days at the terminal. Her sister, Anthem, will be in residence during 2015.
The final regular terminal is the current youngster, Ocean, which opened in 2009. It is opposite where the original Art Deco one was the original Queens and numerous other classic liners used. The current Ocean Terminal was built once again thanks to a Carnival contract and is the main terminal for Carnival brand ships.
The proposed fifth terminal has, as yet, not materialised. It had been scheduled to open in 2015 and would have been in berth 104. It’s now used regularly for fruit but had often been used as an overflow terminal when there were five, six or the P&O Grand Event seven ships in port. They did a good job of making it cosy though, with carpets and chairs plus heating in winter.
Onwards and upwards for the UK’s number one cruise port and we head towards a brand new and very exciting year. You can read more information about the ‘new’ Mayflower Terminal at http://www.abports.co.uk/newsarticle/160/