THE economy will receive a welcome boost thanks to a record-breaking cruise ship season at Portland Port, with nearly 80,000 people scheduled to visit – the busiest year yet.

Portland Port's cruise calendar for 2020 has been announced – and it's yet another record-breaking year ahead with benefits felt throughout the local economy as many passengers choose to visit Weymouth and Portland.

In 2019, there were 44 ships bringing in 60,000 people to Portland and the surrounding areas. That smashed all previous records but, as they say, records are made to be broken.

This year there will be an all-time high of 46 cruise liners docking, with a staggering 79,102 passengers onboard. The figure rises to above 80,000 when the number of crew is added.

Back in 2000 just three ships visited Portland.

The port’s cruise season is much longer this year, with the first ship arriving on March 9 and the last on November 25. Of the 46 ships expected, 10 are inaugural calls, each of which will receive a hand-carved Portland stone plaque to commemorate their first visit to the isle.

Ian McQuade, general manager of Portland Port's commercial side said: “2020 is going to be a fantastic year for cruise ships at Portland Port and we look forward to giving every ship a warm welcome to Dorset, as well as a departure to remember with the help of local entertainment groups.”

The first ship to arrive on the 9th March, is a new ship and cruise line for Portland; Hurtigruten’s vessel, MS Fridtjof Nansen. Hurtigruten offer expedition cruises where passengers can experience unique nature-based tours in remote areas of the world. She is the latest addition to their fleet and has a variety of custom-built expedition equipment on board, such as kayaks and underwater drones.

She has a relatively small passenger capacity of 530, which is on a more intimate scale compared to the Norwegian Escape who will visit the port for the first time shortly after.

The Norwegian Escape will become the heaviest vessel and have the most passengers on board, of any vessel, to ever visit Portland Port. She has a staggering passenger capacity of 4,266 and a gross tonnage of 165,157. This vessel also boasts an amazing hull design with a huge sailfish as the figurehead art, with lots of other fish species and sea creatures as well. It will stop at Portland twice this year, visiting on May 13 and October 20.

To round off the record-breaking season, The Crown Princess and its 3,114 passengers will stop off on November 25.

CRUISE ship passengers who decide to disembark visit attractions in Dorset and around the south west on coach trips.

Many of them choose to see the local sights, and decide to explore Portland and Weymouth.

Visitors to Weymouth are greeted by Weyfarers from Weymouth BID, who give them maps and show them around the town, and local businesses benefit from the extra shoppers.

Claudia Moore, chief operating officer of Weymouth BID, said she was looking forward to the town welcoming more passengers than ever before: "There are more ships than ever this year which is wonderful news.

"This year we will have the new maps at the drop-off point for the passengers and the new benches.

"We have a new heritage trail as well and also the land train will be coming to the town too.

"It can only have a positive effect but it can only be positive if everyone gets involved. That's why we make sure that everyone has a cruise calendar so they can prepare for when the passengers will be here."