A brand new passenger terminal, part of a £16.5 million investment in new facilities, has opened its doors for the first time today at Portsmouth International Port.
This is the first phase of the terminal opening, which will be concluded May, when the terminal will be officially opened.
Over the next six weeks all works will be completed in the terminal.
The new terminal replaces a building that opened in the 1970s.
In a carefully planned procedure, operations between old and new were switched at midnight. The new terminal is designed to accommodate a growing number of cruise ship passengers, as well as customers using existing ferry operators.
Inside there is a full-height concourse and mezzanine bar/café with an observation balcony overlooking the Port.
Facilities will include: comfortable seating, a shop for last-minute purchases, travel essentials and souvenirs, a bureau de change and Costa coffee.
After a year of construction Martin Putman, port manager, was saw passengers using the new terminal for the first time at 05:30 this morning.
He said: “We have always had a reputation as being the best connected cruise and ferry Port in Britain, offering a trouble-free start to a journey to the continent.
“Now we have the best cruise and ferry terminal in the country too.
“We know the investment in top class facilities will not only improve the experience of passengers, but we fully expect it to attract new customers too.”
The terminal has started operating three weeks ahead of its expected opening day.
The building has been designed to be light and spacious, and to considerably reduce its impact on the environment.
Revolutionary pumps that take heat from the sea will be connected in the next few weeks as part of an air-cooling system that uses ‘wind catchers’ on the roof to heat and ventilate the building.
The first cruise ship to use the purpose-built facilities in the terminal will arrive on April 14th.
The Athena will have completed a long voyage from Australia to visit the historic city. The new terminal has been key to attracting more cruise ships to Portsmouth than ever before.
All Leisure Group will be basing three ships at Portsmouth for its 2011 season, with other cruise companies making the historic port a destination for the first time this year.