Cruise ships show that the city is going places

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Only a week ago we were enthusing about bold plans to turn the dilapidated Brunel House on The Hard into a version of the glass Shard building in London.

We talked about this exciting potential development as a signal that Portsmouth was forging a reputation as a go-ahead city.

Well now we have another reason to be confident it’s really going places. Today we reveal how our port is set to become busier than ever with cruise ships in 2013.

Wind Surf, the world’s largest sailing ship, will be one of 50 cruise ship visits here next year, an increase of 43 per cent. And we’re not just talking day visitors, getting on and off ships to see the sights and then moving on.

The big increase in cruise ship numbers is great news for the port, which now boasts a new and improved layout and modern terminal facilities. But it also has wider significance.

As Mike Hancock, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development for Portsmouth City Council, says: ‘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.’

And that’s not all. Because the port is commercially-operated but owned by the city council, its success matters to everybody living in the city.

It’s no exaggeration to say the money it makes keeps council tax bills down.

Of course, Southampton has long been regarded as the home of the cruise ship.

But maybe we can give it a real run for its money – particularly if the Ministry of Defence can free up land that would allow Portsmouth to accommodate more larger liners.

Next week cruise company Voyages of Discovery has even chosen the city as the location for a naming ceremony for its newest ship, Voyager.

With the long-awaited Northern Quarter shopping development being discussed, regeneration of The Hard and road improvements in the city aimed at easing traffic flow, things are really looking up.