IT’S full steam ahead for Portsmouth’s future, as next year will see the city’s port busier with cruise ships than ever before.
More people will be using the city to start and end their cruises in 2013, as well as visiting on day trips.
It means that plans to invest millions on improving the city’s infrastructure and shopping and building hotels, should pay off as more people come to stay.
Among those visitors will be passengers on board Wind Surf, the world’s largest sailing ship.
Her visit will be one of 50 cruise ship visits next year, an increase of 43 per cent.
Port manager Martin Putman said ‘What’s great is that 90 per cent of them are repeat customers, a sure sign that once operators discover what we have to offer they keep coming back for more.’
That’s thanks in part to work that has been done on the port’s layout, and not least its new terminal building.
Mike Hancock, who as cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development for Portsmouth City Council, works with the port’s management, said: ‘This is brilliant news.
‘It’s not just people coming into Portsmouth for day trips – more people will be starting and finishing their journeys here, which means they might need to stay overnight, and spend some time in Portsmouth and south Hampshire.’
The port’s increasing appeal fits into the council’s plan to regenerate the city.
During the next few years the Northern Quarter shopping centre in Commercial Road should be open and plans are afoot by Gunwharf Quays owner Land Securities and Bouyges Development to regenerate The Hard.
There are also plans to make the roads in the city better able to handle traffic moving around the island, especially towards the southern end.
And there are conversations between the port and the Ministry of Defence over getting more land freed up so the port would be able to take larger liners.
Cllr Hancock added: ‘That would be fantastic for the city’s future.’
Next week around 2,000 people are due to visit the port for the launch of a new cruise ship, when Voyages of Discovery will be officially naming its newest ship Voyager in a ceremony at the port.