PORTLAND Port’s plans to keep up with the changing nature of the cruise ship industry were heard at the first Marine Matters business breakfast.

The meeting was held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy on Portland by the British Marine Federation Wessex.

Delegates enjoyed breakfast and introduced themselves to the meeting.

Ian McQuade of Portland Port, the keynote speaker, announced 21 cruise ships would be visiting the isle this year.

He spoke about plans to expand the cruise ship dock at the former naval base to accommodate the most modern of cruise ships.

Mr McQuade said: “Ships are getting bigger and bigger. The Quantam of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas are 365 metres long. They’re huge ships and can carry five to six thousand passengers – you’ve got a floating town.

“All the major cruise lines are developing bigger and bigger ships and we can have ships of up to 300 metres alongside.

“It’s going to expand to enable us to house ships in excess of 375 metres.”

A marketing video used by the port to lure cruise liners to the area, featuring Stonehenge, Bath and the Jurassic Coastline were shown. Portland Port was selected as ‘Most Improved Destination’ by Cruise Insight magazine.

Mr McQuade said: “We have been very successful over the last five years in raising the profile of the port in relation to cruise activity. The business is still small, we’re never going to be Southampton “The average number of passengers is 1,100. On the bigger ships we’ve had 2,500 passengers on the biggest ships. They’re coming in to see the Dorset countryside and they can get to Stonehenge and Abbotsbury.

“Every port in the world wants to be involved in cruises. If it’s a 300-metre cruise ship coming in everyone gets very excited.”

Delegates were given an update on the port’s £50million shipyard project, which is set to bring up to 1,000 jobs to the borough.

“The project is still ongoing. The North Sea is generally short of shipyard capability. A shortlist of potential partners is being worked on.”

Also speaking at the meeting were Richard Selby, BMF regional executive, and chairman of BMF Wessex Paul Glatzel.

Roy Griff-iths, vice chairman of BMF Wessex, also spoke about online marketing.