Majesty of the Seas has become the largest cruise ship to ever visit Portsmouth Port and is the first time a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship has visited the city.
At 73,941 GT, Majesty of the Seas has spent the last 2 days at sea off the coast of Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight after leaving Southampton on Monday 6 July.
Majesty of the Seas squeezed through the harbour entrance just after 9:30am this morning and is expected to leave the port this evening at 8pm, where it will head out to sea before returning to Southampton on Tuesday 14 July.
Completion of the port’s multi-million pound berth extension means Portsmouth can now manage larger ships.
The berth previously had a sloped level making it particularly challenging for accessing certain ships, the essential levelling work and creation of an additional dolphin – a fixed, permanent structure, separate to the berth, which acts as an extension for mooring – now means larger ships can be safely handled at the port.
Mike Sellers Portsmouth International Port’s director said: “This is a major milestone for our ambitions. When we embarked on the construction we knew it was a complex development. When the pandemic arrived we were well into the work and any delays would have had a significant impact.
“As a lifeline port it’s critical we can accommodate a range of ships and we needed our berth back in action as soon as possible.
“Little did we know as soon the berth was ready for service, we’d have the largest cruise ship the city has seen alongside.”
Usually based on short break cruises out of Florida to the Caribbean, the rare ship – which until this year had not visited the UK since it launched back in 1992 – has relocated to the UK to repatriate European crew members during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Hernan Zini Royal Caribbean International’s vice president, port operations said: “During these unprecedented times we’re glad we have ports such as Portsmouth whose investment has meant the ships that are unexpectedly in the region can use these facilities to ensure our ships are supplied and our crew are able to transfer home.
“We’re using several ports along the South Coast of England to support calls of all of our vessels and we look forward to welcoming guests back on soon”
Majesty of the Seas has remained in the South since June and will eventually return back to Miami once cruising resumes.
Royal Caribbean who operate the ship have cancelled their global operations until at least 15 September. It is not yet clear if yesterday’s FCO travel advice against cruise ship travel will affect the planned restart of cruise operations in the autumn.