Portland in Dorset is predicting a record year for cruise ship business next year as Olympic sailing events put the port in the world spotlight.
The town’s former Navy dockyard turned commercial port, is already in discussions with operators for 2013.
It can already handle ships 300 metres long at berth and is overseeing a £5 million refurbishment of the Queen’s Pier so it too can handle larger ships.
The port is perfectly placed to offer cruise passengers excursions to Unesco World Heritage Sites such as the Jurassic Coast, Stonehenge and Bath,
Last year it attracted nearly 8,000 visitors after winning contracts with cruise firms such as Holland America Line, Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Phoenix Reisen. This year sees ships from Sea Cloud Cruises, Saga, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, Peter Deilmann and Hebridean Island Cruises calling in.
When the ms Deutschland called in earlier this month the port’s commercial manager, Ian McQuade arranged for German language speakers to be on hand to greet the passengers in case they needed extra information about Weymouth and Portland.
“We know from our meetings with international cruise operators that this is very important to their passengers, and we believe it is one of the facilities that helps Portland Port attract cruise ships to Dorset in the first place,” he said. “Getting Portland on the radar of industry giants such as these operators is a crucial boost to the South West economy.
“Portland is well placed close to the main English Channel shipping lanes making it easy to incorporate into all manner of cruises whether they are traditional Round Britain cruises or small taster cruises in the Channel, itineraries centred on North West Europe or transit cruises between the Mediterranean and the Baltic.
“I do not want to give too much away at this early stage but I am hopeful that 2012 will be another record year for the Port'. And looking beyond that discussions have already started regarding plans for 2013.”