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Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 12:06 UK
Southampton's cruise business boom
The Queen Mary 2 docked in Southampton
The Queen Mary 2 cruise liner was named in Southampton by Queen Elizabeth II

"Our turnover has... increased by 500%. As far as we're concerned there has been no recession," says Lee Haynes, operation manager for West Quay Cars taxi firm.

His is just one Hampshire company which has benefited from a boom in the cruise industry.

The arrival of a new cruise ship to the docks in Southampton is becoming a common occurrence.

The latest is the £800m, 153,000-tonne Norwegian Epic.

Cruise capital

Southampton is the self-styled cruise capital of the UK with more than a 65% share of the market.

In 1997 97 cruises departed the city, carrying 200,000 passengers in total. In 2011 the port is expecting 360 departures to carry 1.4m holidaymakers.

The Cruise Partnership in Southampton is a group focused on maximising the local commercial opportunities from the thousands of passengers who travel in and out of the port every year. Chairman, Ray Facey, said every ship affords a wealth of potential for the area.

As far as we're concerned there has been no recession
Lee Haynes, West Quay Cars

He said: "Every cruise ship brings in the average of £1.2m per ship, so you're talking in terms of £350m benefit to the local economy."

"It's surprising how much income is brought in," he added.

Lee Haynes, the operations manager for taxi firm West Quay Cars, said that his firm has benefited from shuttling passengers between the docks and their hotels.

"Our turnover has, in the past four years, literally increased by 500%. As far as we're concerned there has been no recession, and that's all down to the cruise business here in Southampton."

Southampton port is attractive to shipping thanks to its proximity to major sea routes and its unique double tide giving 17 hours of rising or standing water every day.

Britain's Cruise Industry
Passengers look out from balconies on the 'Liberty of the Seas'
1.53 million UK holidaymakers took a cruise in 2009
14 new cruise ships are launching in 2010
60% of passengers take more than one cruise a year
1 in every 10 package holidays booked is a cruise
Northern Europe is a more popular destination than the Caribbean with British cruise passengers
Source: Passenger Shipping Association

Ships stores

The city is home port for major cruise companies P&O, Princess, Cunard and Royal Caribbean and boasts four dedicated cruise terminals.

And, as the director of Cavendish Ships Stores, John Davey, points out, "the ships are getting bigger."

His company, which has a base in Fareham, provides food for ships' many high-class restaurants.

He said: "50% of my business is cruise ships. There's not a cruise ship that turns around in the UK that we don't supply."

With 4,200 passengers and over 1,700 crew, the Norwegian Epic is certainly not the biggest cruise ships to visit Southampton - but everybody onboard needs feeding.

He said: "It's great business and it's quality business - it's big volume. The big ships can take over 200 tonnes [of food] - we can put two or three artic lorries on inside."

Find out which cruise ships are visiting Southampton on the Southampton Port website .

For all the latest cruise ship news visit our ship spotting highlights page.

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