An almost £19 million revamp of cruise facilities at Portsmouth port is due to be completed by spring 2020.

The changes mean the port could handle 2,000 cruise passengers at any one time through work to one of the berths to handle larger ships.

This would enable Southampton’s smaller rival on the south coast to attract more cruise lines.

Portsmouth handled 48 cruise calls last year and is looking to grow every year, with an ambition to reach more than 100.

Plans also include changes to the terminal building to handle cruise and ferry passengers more efficiently and appropriate walkway access to cruise ships.

Approval of the investment to transform facilities followed a review of facilities by consultants.

Portsmouth International Port director Mike Sellers said: “Cruise is a market we have a real opportunity to develop, if we provide industry standard infrastructure.

“We’ve listened to the needs of our customers and have developed plans to meet their requirements. We understand that while there are many benefits to our port, this significant investment will have a considerable positive impact on how we look after ships and passengers.

“By levelling our main cruise berth we will be in a position to cater for ships up to 250m and also provide a much improved service.

“While we are fortunate to have a modern terminal, with green credentials, adapting the layout to suit all our passengers more effectively will have a huge impact.

“This is the biggest spend on cruise to date and demonstrates our commitment to the industry.

“Cruise line passengers expect a certain level of service and we need to make sure the port has facilities to match.”

Consultants are working up designs for how the terminal and berth infrastructure will look.