Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 08:28 UK

Largest cruise ship berths in UK


Independence of the Seas can carry 4,375 passengers

One of the world's largest cruise ships has arrived in the UK for the first time ahead of its naming ceremony.

The 160,000-tonne Independence of the Seas docked in Southampton, Hampshire, at 0700 BST - its home port.

Built in Finland, the 400m ship equals the size of owner Royal Caribbean's two other ships, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

It will be named in Southampton next Wednesday will sail to and from the city all summer.

Susan Hooper, senior vice president of Royal Caribbean, said: "Positioning one of our largest and newest ships in Southampton reaffirms Royal Caribbean International's strong commitment to the region.

Independence of the Seas
160,000 gross tonnage
4,375 passengers
336m (1,112 ft) long - more than three football pitches
Features include ice skating rink, climbing wall, surf simulator

The European cruise industry is booming and 1.5 million Britons are expected to take a cruise holiday in 2008.

Independence of the Seas will set sail on its maiden voyage on 2 May for a two-week cruise of the Mediterranean.

On Tuesday, Cunard's three Queens - QE2, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria - met in Southampton for the first and last time.

QE2 will retire in November when it will be converted into a hotel in Dubai.

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