On a normal day that’s classified as ‘busy’ in Southampton, four cruise ships embark and disembark passengers. Tomorrow, July 3, there will be seven, bringing some 30,000 passengers to town, a number the Southampton City Council website ominously describes as ‘unprecedented’.
Why so many ships? Because the whole of the P&O Cruises fleet will be present in celebration of the line’s 175th anniversary. As we reported last week, events will include a display by the Red Arrows, a review of the fleet by the Princess Royal and as the ships set sail in the late afternoon, fireworks, confetti and lots of sounding of horns.
This is where each ship will be berthed:
Oriana: City Terminal
Azura: Ocean Terminal
Ventura: Mayflower Terminal
Arcadia: Berth 104 (the Fruit Terminal, between Mayflower and City Terminals)
Aurora: Berth 102
If you’re planning to visit, or are sailing on one of the ships, Southampton City Council is warning of possible traffic congestion. Passengers will be disembarking between around 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., most of them either jumping in their cars and heading for the M27 or taking taxis to the station or airport. Employers in the city centre have been encouraged to factor in flexitime to reduce the load on the roads.
Passengers are due to embark any time between midday and late afternoon, which takes the pressure off the evening rush hour but does mean likely queues as drivers head for the docks.
P&O Cruises, in anticipation of the numbers, has taken over the Ageas Bowl on the edge of the city (the home of Hampshire Cricket, formerly the Rose Bowl) and turned it into a fully functional cruise terminal. Passengers disembarking Adonia and Aurora will pick up their luggage and cars here, and those embarking these two ships will check in here and drop off their cars.
Spectators coming to look at the ships or watch the Red Arrows at 7.20 p.m. are being advised to use public transport – and not to go to Mayflower Park, as the display won’t be visible from there. Calshot, Lepe and Hill Head are the best places to watch, as detailed on the P&O Grand Event map.