Cruise ships back on the schedule at port

The Saga Pearl II
The Saga Pearl II
Rae Bryden, manager at Joules in Gunwharf Quays, who was the Manager of the Year winner and was runner-up in the Fashion Store of the Year category at The News's Retail and Leisure Awards in 2016.  Picture: Sarah Standing (170883-5016)

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CRUISE ship calls are back on the cards for Portsmouth International Port as a new company has stepped in to fill the hole left by All Leisure Holidays after it went bust.

The port will play a big part in Saga’s cruise schedule for 2018, with a total of 15 visits next year.

Mike Sellers, the director of Portsmouth International Port

Mike Sellers, the director of Portsmouth International Port

All Leisure Holidays collapsed in January, meaning that 19 sailings scheduled to run in and out of the city’s port in 2017/2018 were axed.

But holiday firm Saga has now taken up the vacant slots.

The firm’s ship – Saga Pearl II – will be based at the port between January and April, with eight cruises starting and ending at Portsmouth in the first four months of 2018. Saga Pearl II will return in the autumn with another six turnaround calls between October and December.

The company’s larger liner, Saga Sapphire, also makes a return trip to Portsmouth International Port.

Port director Mike Sellers said: ‘This is a vote of confidence by Saga in Portsmouth International Port, making us a key part of their plans for 2018. We’ve been able to demonstrate to Saga how well we can handle its ships, offering a bespoke, efficient and flexible service that makes for an amazing passenger experience.

‘Our location on the motorway and rail network also makes us the perfect place to start and end a holiday.’

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, which owns the port, said: ‘Portsmouth’s strength as a tourism destination and its excellent transport connections, added to our modern and efficient port, make the city an ideal cruise destination. It’s good to see this commitment from such a major brand.’

Saga’s first cruise from Portsmouth International Port in January 2018 will be a 17-night holiday that heads to Morocco and the hidden Canaries.

James Langley, head of marine operations at Saga Cruises, said: ‘The service offered at Portsmouth International Port is great and we were impressed with the arrival appearance of the port and the experience offered by the staff – it’s perfect for Saga’s passengers.’

The additional 15 Saga cruise visits to next year’s diary means more than 40 port of call and turnaround visits are booked for 2018.