Spotlight on Portsmouth Port at cruise event

DESTINATION Cruise companies came to see Portsmouth's port
DESTINATION Cruise companies came to see Portsmouth's port
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PORTSMOUTH’S reputation as a cruise ship destination is getting ‘better and better’, its harbour master says.

Cruise ship tour operators from around the country were at the port yesterday for an expo organised by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK and Ireland.

It was a chance for them to find out more about what Portsmouth has to offer cruise passengers staying in the city, and why 16 cruise operators choose Portsmouth as their home port or to visit.

The agents were welcomed by Captain Rupert Taylor, the port’s harbour master, who told them about the £16m investment in the port’s passenger terminal, which was opened two years ago, as well as money being spent on extending one of the berths and increasing the space ships have to manoeuvre once they get into the port.

‘Things are going to get better and better for us,’ he added.

Natalie Budgen, from CLIA UK and Ireland said: ‘This was about giving travel agents a good insight into expedition cruises, as these niche areas are becoming more popular, and also about the destinations they can go to. Portsmouth attracts the smaller cruise ships due to its size, whereas ports like Southampton only really have the massive cruise ships.

‘Portsmouth is a good alternative because we find that when people have done the big ships, they then look for something different like a river cruise or an expedition to the Antarctic or the Galapagos Islands which the bigger ships just can’t do.’

Those taking part in the expo were able to see for themselves two cruise ships in port. A total of 44 cruise ships will call at the port in 2013. They were given a tour of the Silver Explorer, run by Silversea Cruises, and Island Sky, run by Noble Caledonia.

Mike Deegan, fleet operations director for Noble Caledonia, said: ‘The transport links here in Portsmouth are second to none – it just has everything. In the past we’ve been criticised for bringing passengers down and putting them straight on the ships.

‘Now we bring them down a couple of days early, because Portsmouth has such a wealth of attractions. We’re going to be bringing potential cruise passengers down for a taste of what they can expect.’