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Saturday, 22 September, 2001, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Ocean liners put port to test
West Port, Southampton, in the 1960s
Many cruise ships visited before mass air transport
Four of the world's largest cruise ships all docked at Southampton on Saturday.

The QE2, Oriana, Sundream and Galaxy berthed alongside one another for 12 hours.

More than 10,000 passengers passed through the port leaving or joining the ships.

Southampton is the only UK cruise ship port which can handle those numbers.

QE2
The QE2 has been diverted from New York

Associated British Ports, which owns and operates Southampton Port, said the four ships had a combined weight of 238,947 metric tons.

ABP port director Andrew Kent said: "This is an opportunity for everyone involved to show just what the port can do."

The port has the task of turning around the four ships in 24 hours.

That involves restocking them and allowing passengers to disembark or new passengers to join cruises.

Terrorist attack

Earlier this year, Southampton completed a five-cruise ship turnaround in less than 48 hours.

Large numbers of cruise ships used the port until the era of mass air transport hit the trade.

But there has been a revival. Southampton has had 165 cruise ship visits this year, 40 more than its nearest rival, Dover.

P&O and Cunard have made Southampton their European home port.

The QE2 and Oriana were already in port. Sundream and Galaxy arrived on Saturday.

The QE2 was later sailing for Boston, instead of its usual destination of New York, following the terrorist attack.

See also:

15 Sep 01 | Americas
QE2 diverted from New York harbour
22 Aug 01 | Americas
Widow makes QE2 her home
17 Mar 01 | Americas
Cruise ship breaks canal record
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