PASSENGERS from Portsmouth have embarked on the first voyage of a luxury cruise ship since she was given a £10m refurbishment.
Swan Hellenic’s MV Minerva set sail from Portsmouth International Port for the first time since her revamp yesterday.
The ship, which will now use the city’s ferry port as its home destination, was at full capacity, carrying 350 guests and 150 crew members as it headed for its first destination of Portugal.
Work carried out during her refit includes the creation of a large lounge and bar area with panoramic windows at the front of the ship, an extended upper sun deck, 32 additional balconies and 20 new cabins.
Minerva’s shop manager Tina Harrison, 48, of Weevil Lane, Gosport, said: ‘The ship was always kept in very good condition, but she’s beautiful now she’s had the refit.
‘And it’s great to know that she will always be coming back to Portsmouth.
‘It’s very exciting having the chance to travel with work.
‘I’ve been places I could never dream of going otherwise, but it’s a lovely feeling when she comes back to Portsmouth and I know I’m coming home.’
As well as the cosmetic work, the ship has also had many technological updates, including a new stern thruster, propellers, propulsion unit and two large lifeboats.
Colin Stone, managing director of Minerva, said: ‘We were looking for an improvement on efficiency, to burn less fuel, to keep costs down and become more environmentally-friendly.
‘But we also wanted to upgrade the facilities on the ship to give guests an enhanced holiday experience, while keeping her ambience and character.
‘It’s amazing to see the final results now. There’s been such a lot of work done in an incredibly short space of time, and she looks great.’
Minerva was taken out of the water in December last year and kept in a drydock in Bremerhaven, Germany, for the work to be carried out.
She left the German dock for Portsmouth on Wednesday, ahead of embarking on her first voyage since the revamp.
Paul Carter, cruise director for the ship, said: ‘The staff are all very loyal on-board Minerva.
‘Most of them have been here over 10 years, even I’ve been here for 18 years. Everyone has always loved her, but now all of a sudden she looks quite chic again and there is a real sense of enthusiasm about the place. We’re all very excited about the changes that have been made and so are the passengers.’
Minerva started operating cruises from Portsmouth last year, but only recently decided to use the city at its home port.