Cruise ships return to ports across the South

The Viking Venus arrives in Portsmouth Credit: Portsmouth International Port

The first cruise ships that will carry passengers for more than a year have started to arrive in South coast ports from today.

Cruise holidays are expected to be allowed from next week (17th May) when other restrictions are eased. For many in the region it will be the first time they have worked since last March.

The industry is worth over a billion pounds a year to the local economy and employs 40,000 locally with each ship that calls contributing over two million pounds to the regional economy. 

Iona is one of two ships built for P&O by German shipbuilders Meyer Werft.

The first to arrive was the new ship Viking Venus into Portsmouth ahead of its naming next Monday (17th) by celebrity Anne Diamond. The ship will set sail on Saturday 22nd May. 

MSC Virtuosa will arrive into Southampton on Wednesday and will be the very first to carry passengers for more than a year on Thursday 20th May.

The ships will spend time preparing for strict new protocols on board and because of international travel restrictions will only sail around the UK.

  • Watch the Viking Venus arrive in Portsmouth this morning

Social distancing, masks in public areas, testing and passengers having to have both jabs are some of the changes which differ from ship to ship. 

Southampton based Iona from P&O Cruises, the largest ship ever to fly the British flag, and based in Southampton will arrive for its naming on Sunday.

It's P&O's most environmentally friendly ship and is powered by liquefied natural gas.