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24 September 2014

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You are in: Hampshire > Places > Places Features > Solent Shipspotting

Solent Shipspotting

Southampton is home to many cruise ships and superliners. When they arrive and depart they dominate the waterfront skyline. Click through our news, video and pictures of the shipspotting highlights.

Ventura

P&O's new Ventura cruise ship arrived in her home port of Southampton for the first time during a snow blizzard on Sunday 6 April 2008.

The 115,000 tonnes vessel was built in Fincantieri, Italy and will visit European and Caribbean destinations.

Onboard attractions include a 20 metre plasma wall showing different city skylines in 'real time', a giant six car digital race track and a contemporary circus skills school.

The ship has the services of Marco-Pierre White as consultant chef in the White Room restaurant.  He told BBC Radio Solent he was looking forward to working on a cruise ship: "You've got to be really, really organised but once you are at sea, it's like any other restaurant.  You take your inspiration from the sun ... people want to eat sunshine flavours."

On Wednesday 16 April Dame Helen Mirren officially named Ventura in a spectacular dockside ceremony in front of 1,500 guests.

But in a break with tradition, two Royal Marines were brought in to abseil down the side of the ship to to ensure the traditional bottle of champagne broke against the hull.

Ventura set sail from Southampton on her maiden cruise to the Mediterranean on Friday 18 April, at 20:00 accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display in the Solent.

Vantage Points

Weston Shore and Mayflower Park, Hythe Marina and Calshot Castle at the mouth of Southampton Water provide an excellent vantage point to witness the arrival and departure of the cruise ships. See map below.

Email your pictures of the cruise ships for our Shipspotting Photo Gallery - hampshire@bbc.co.uk

Cruise Ship City

The city has a long history of being the gateway to the world. In its heyday during the early 20th Century, great liners like Olympic, Queen Mary and the ill-fated Titanic left Southampton Water for all corners of the globe.

In the 1930s, Southampton handled nearly half of the UK's ocean-going passenger traffic and millions of tons of cargo.

By the 1960's passenger traffic through Southampton had declined because flying, particularly on Concorde, was a quicker way to cross the Atlantic.

Cruising has made something of a revival and Southampton has seen a huge boom with over 165 cruise ship visits per year.

P&O and Cunard have made Southampton their European home port.  This renaissance of great liners was epitomised by the £550 million Queen Mary 2 - the Cunard liner was launched in 2004 and is as high as a 23 storey building.

But it's not just an elite few who opt for cruising. Cruising is now the fastest growing sector of the holiday market, with 800,000 Brits a year hopping onboard liners destined for places like the Med, Scandinavia or the Caribbean tempted by companies offering 'no frills' or taster cruises.

last updated: 03/11/2009 at 10:16
created: 04/04/2007

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