A deal was announced yesterday between RCI and the Port of Southampton. The two parties have signed a 7-year deal which “secures Southampton’s City Cruise Terminal as the official UK home of Royal Caribbean International and secures £5.5 million’s worth of investment from the holiday company“. I’m not entirely sure what that means; the cynic in me would point out that Southampton is the only port in the UK that can do turnarounds for the current RC ships so where else would they go? In fact, with the possible exception of Liverpool, there may not be any other port that can accommodate the Oasis-class ships (now including Harmony of the Seas) even for day calls. But never mind – ABP and RCI say it’s good news, so it must be.
The ABP press release goes on to talk about the improvements that have been made to the City terminal, and include this comment:- “New paperless check-in for passengers and a kerb-to-gangway processing of only 10 minutes makes it the fastest route from home-to-international holiday for holidaymakers“. This is particularly apposite in view of my post yesterday regarding the clamp-down by P&O on check-in times in Southampton. A number of people have posted in various other forums that the Royal Caribbean companies (RC itself and Celebrity Cruises) seems to be able to manage embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton more efficiently than the Carnival companies do. And of course at other ports RCI have built entire new terminals for the new ships – I gather that the terminal built at Port Lauderdale specifically for the Oasis class is especially impressive.