THOUSANDS of visitors are set to pour into Portland Port as the island gets set for a record-breaking summer.
The big cruise season officially got underway at the port with the first of a number of visits from major international liners.
More than 24,000 passengers are set to descend on Weymouth and Portland with the 2014 cruise season shaping up to bigger and better than ever.
It comes as Portland Port has recently embarked on a major programme of works to serve the ever-growing number of visiting cruise lines.
And plans are in place for local businesses to make the most of what is set to be an economic boost for the resort.
The Azores, operating on behalf of German cruise line Ambiente Kreuzfahrten, and the Ryndam, of major US operator Holland America Line, both arrived last week, bringing nearly 2,000 passengers with them.
These are the first two inaugural calls out of six first timers for the 2014 cruise season.
The Eurodam is another Holland America Line ship calling at Portland for the first time, with the 285-metre vessel deciding to stay at Portland for 15 hours this week.
Portland will also see the return of old friends the Brilliance of the Seas and the AIDAstella.
The line-up of spectacular cruise ships will be capped by the first visit of a Costa Cruises vessel in September.
Staff at Portland Port said they are ‘excited’ about the summer months.
General manager Ian McQuade said: “Portland Port has seen record figures for cruise calls and passengers in recent years and already 2015 is looking good, with a berth capable of handling ships up to 340m LOA from 2016.”
Work on the first of the new mooring bollards is expected to soon begin and when completed will enable the port to handle some of the largest cruise ships.
The port was present at the Cruise Shipping Miami event on the Cruise Britain stand to promote the new berth.
This event is the major showcase of the year for the cruise industry and will give us the opportunity to brief all the cruise lines face to face on the berth extension.
Mr McQuade added: “We want to ensure that Portland Port gets full consideration for inclusion in many 2016 itineraries.”
Portland borough and county councillor Paul Kimber said it was ‘tremendous news’ that Portland Port was set for such a good season and welcomed the boost it would give to the island.
He added: “It is a boost for the local economy and it’s what we have been working towards – we need to keep creating jobs and this will bring more people to the area.”
For more information on this year’s cruise ships visit portland-port.co.uk/cruise/cruise-calls
EFFORTS are being made to keep visitors arriving at Portland Port on cruise ships in the local area.
Julie Cleaver, president of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are working with Weymouth BID and Portland Port to try and encourage more of the passengers to stay in the local area.
“At the moment around 50 per cent of those on cruise ships stay local and our aim is to get more of them to do so and make the most of what is on offer nearby rather than going on tours to Salisbury or Stonehenge.”
She added: “Many local businesses have already been benefitting from the increasing numbers of cruise ships in the past couple of years.”
She also told the Echo that the Weymouth BID was working on the idea of giving passengers a map of the local area when they arrive at the port.
KEY features of the Portland Port development include:
- Capability to handle ships up to 340m;
- Construction of new, heavy duty, mooring and breasting dolphins;
- Addition of a new suite of 150t mooring bollards on existing berth and on new dolphins;
- High capacity pneumatic floating fenders;
- Minimum water depth 9.6m;
- Large service apron;
- Entry into service 2016.