P&O Cruises has paid tribute to homeport Southampton by awarding the city a plaque on board its newest ship, Iona.
Southampton has been the UK line’s home port for decades and P&O expressed pride in its association with the city in a traditional plaque exchange event, which was the tenth of its kind this century.
Carnival UK president Simon Palethorpe and P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow were joined by deputy lieutenant Tom Floyd; the high sheriff of Hampshire, Phillip Sykes; mayor of Southampton, councillor Alex Houghton; MP for Southampton and Itchen, Royston Smith; Southampton City Council leader, councillor Dan Fitzhenry and ABP director of port services, Alastair Welch.
Ludlow said: “This is a very special day for us, for Iona and for Southampton. P&O Cruises, as well as our sister brands of Cunard and Princess Cruises, are a vital part of the economy and community in the region.
“Each time a ship comes into port it contributes over £2 million to the local economy – from the taxi drivers, stevedores and hundreds of local producers, suppliers and growers.
“The last 18 months have had a devastating impact upon them all and we are now so proud and pleased that once again we have two ships sailing to support this network of regional businesses.
Iona’s master, captain Wesley Dunlop exchanged plaques with mayor Houghton and ABP. Dunlop said: “These exchanges are a visible sign of an important connection – one between a ship and her home port.
“And like us, all ships need a home – somewhere to feel safe, take shelter and weather the storm – something the last few months have certainly taught us. There is no better home port than Southampton.”