Portsmouth welcomes biggest ship ever into city's harbour after huge upgrade to port

A HUGE cruise ship – the largest vessel ever to sail into Portsmouth – has arrived at the city’s international port after a multi-million pound upgrade to the transport hub’s facilities.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 10th July 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Saturday, 11th July 2020, 4:20 pm

The massive luxury cruiser Majesty of the Seas sailed into the port this morning in an historic first for Portsmouth.

Weighing in at 73,000 tonnes, she is heavier than the Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The Royal Caribbean International liner’s arrival has only been possible following £18m overhaul of Portsmouth International Port’s berths.

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Majesty of the Seas arrives in Portsmouth for the first time - the biggest ship ever to sail into Portsmouth Harbour. Photo: Tom Langford

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15 great pictures of Majesty of the Seas in Portsmouth

Mike Sellers, port director, hailed the news as a ‘major milestone’ in completing the ‘complex’ development.

He added: ‘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.’

Majesty of the Seas sails past HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Photo: Tom Langford

The 879ft-long ship, which can carry 2,767 passengers, is expected to leave Portsmouth this evening.

Usually based on short-break cruises out of Florida to the Caribbean, the liner has not visited the UK since she launched in 1992.

She is now being relocated to the UK, sparking hopes the vessel could be a regular visitor to Portsmouth – boosting the city’s future economy.

Majesty of the Seas as she enters Portsmouth Harbour. Photo: Tom Langford

Ben McInnes, Portsmouth International Port's harbour master, said: ‘The redevelopment of our berth opens doors to ships not seen in Portsmouth before, as demonstrated by today's arrival.

‘Future passengers using our new berth will be spoiled by the sights the harbour provides, from historic vessels such as HMS Warrior, to the latest HMS Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

‘With these attractions and our new berth, we're on track to become a world-class passenger facility and destination.’

The port’s sloped berth have been overhauled, being levelled and improved to allow larger ships to safely come alongside.

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the seas entering Portsmouth Harbour biggest ever to come to Portsmouth. Picture: Mark Cox

Hernan Zini, Royal Caribbean International's vice president, port operations, praised the city for its work to improve the port.

He added: ‘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.’

Portsmouth City Council owns the international port. Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the authority’s leader, said the travel hub was a ‘vital economic driver’ for the city

He added: ‘Our harbour has witnessed many historic moments, and the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, is yet another to add to the list.

‘This investment and completion of the berth extension means more opportunities to welcome a range of ships, helping to support the city bounce back after the impact of the pandemic.’

Majesty of the Seas maiden arrival into Portsmouth Port. At 73,941 Gross Tons, the 268 metre 'Majesty of the Seas' is the largest ship to come into Portsmouth Harbour. Picture: Tony Weaver

Mr Sellers added: ‘Ports have a vital role to play in the economic recovery of the country, if we can operate successfully that has an impact on everyone else getting back to business as usual.’

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Majesty of the Seas maiden arrival into Portsmouth Port. At 73,941 Gross Tons, the 268 metre 'Majesty of the Seas' is the largest ship to come into Portsmouth Harbour. Picture: Tony Weaver