Portland Harbour Authority recently welcomed its largest cruise ship to date – the 1,848 luxury passenger vessel, The MS Westerdam. Owned by cutting-edge cruise operator Holland America Line, the sumptuous Vista Class cruise ship has a gross tonnage of 82,500, 11-passenger decks and is capable of travelling at 24 knots.
This year Portland Port has increased day-trip cruise-visitor numbers from 2,000 in 2009 to 10,000 in 2010. As well as Holland America Line, The Port has also won impressive new contracts with cruise firms in the US, (Crystal Cruises and Oceania Cruises), Germany (Phoenix Reisen), and the expanding UK operator - Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
The first cruise ship this year berthed in early May with many more scheduled over the summer months. Passenger numbers on each vessel range between 350 and 1,900.
Situated at the heart of the World Heritage Jurassic coastline, the Port is perfectly placed to offer fast sea-access to the English Channel and provide a convenient gateway to some of Britain’s most stunning and unique inland attractions whether it’s the historic splendour of Stonehenge or the captivating charm of Portland Castle or the Swanage steam railway. Portland is an excellent location for cruise turnarounds providing smooth access to Southern Europe, the Iberian Peninsular, the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic Isles.
Previously a naval dockyard for over 150 years, Portland Harbour is now a thriving and successful commercial facility. It still maintains a close relationship with the past through its ongoing contract to support the RFA, as well as being home to the activities of Global Marine and Portland Bunkers International. It has over 4,000 acres of water at depths of up to 15m (C.D.); and provides vessel services from long term lay-ups to brief maintenance calls, luxury cruise liner docking facilities to industrial cargo shipments.
The South West economy will benefit from the 10,000 extra visitors this year who are scheduled to use Portland Harbour Authority’s cruise facilities. Traders across the region have joined an enterprise initiative set up by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, Dorset Chamber of Commerce and the Harbour Traders Association, to help local businesses capitalise on the economic benefits that an influx of European day-trip visitors presents.
Ian McQuade, Commercial Manager of Portland Harbour Authority, said: ‘‘Cruise operators like Holland America Line are increasingly choosing us because we have the facilities in place and proven capability to handle large cruise vessels, plus the region offers their passengers so much – Jurassic history, nature and the charm of Dorset life. It’s great to see the investment we’ve made in the Port being recognised by these luxurious world-class tour companies.’