SPECIAL ‘made on Portland’ plaques are being made to celebrate the island’s cruising boom.

Cruise ships calling in at Portland Port for the first time are usually presented with a commemorative token to mark the occasion but this year the first five arrivals are being presented with plaques carved from Portland stone.

They included The Azores, Ryndam and Eurodam which celebrated inaugural calls to Portland as they arrived at the beginning of May. Two more are due including the Serenissima which comes in June.

When presented to the captain of the ship the origin of the plaque is explained – they are quarried from Portland stone and sculpted by local craftsmen.

Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust was commissioned to produce the plaques, which have been gratefully received.

Paul Crabtree, the sculptor who carved the plaques, said: “This has been a very detailed project to work on and has made use of the great facilities at the Drill Hall Community Stone Workspace at Easton Lane, Portland.

“There’s also an exhibition space showcasing talents of artists and stone carvers with the opportunity to learn to carve stone.”

Ian McQuade, general manager of business development at the port, has been on board all of the inaugural calls so far this summer.

He said: “We wanted to do something that was distinctly Portland in character and with these beautiful carved Portland stone plaques I believe we have achieved this.

“It is clear from the comments from the ships that our offering is highly original and very much appreciated.

“Hopefully 2015 will see still more inaugural calls and a demand for more handcrafted Portland Plaques.”