Portsmouth has 'brilliant opportunity' in cruise liner future amid Virgin Voyage's Scarlet Lady visit
THE arrival of a luxury cruise liner in Portsmouth may well signal an exciting future in the industry.
Virgin Voyage’s Scarlet Lady arrived at Portsmouth International Port today to the excitement of many in the city.
But with Virgin looking for home ports for its fleet of ships, the day also presented an opportunity to put Portsmouth firmly on the map.
Millions of pounds have been invested into the city’s port over the past few years, in a bid to diversify and bring more trade into the region.
Now, port bosses believe they are on the cusp of securing a new financial future for Portsmouth.
Director of Portsmouth International Port, Mike Sellers, said: ‘It’s a really proud moment for the team here – we’ve been planning for the future and put the hard work in.
‘To see Scarlet Lady come in was a wonderful feeling. It shows what we can achieve and is a major step forward for our economic future.
‘As more passengers come into the port, they come into Portsmouth and spend money in the city, so it’s a brilliant opportunity.’
The most notable improvement to the port is the £5m extension and levelling of berth two, which allows for bespoke liners like Scarlet Lady to dock with ease.
No expense is spared on board, with more than a dozen restaurants, plus casinos, nightclubs, spas and even its very own high street.
With a number of new cruise liners, Virgin Voyages will need home ports for each ship.
Scarlet Lady will be homed in Miami, but with one ship set to be homed in the UK, Mr Sellers believes Portsmouth would be the ideal location.
‘We’re in a great position for the boutique cruise market,’ he said.
‘This is the first of four ships they [Virgin] are building – we’re hoping that one will be based in the UK and hopefully that will be in Portsmouth.
‘There are a number of cruise companies that are talking to Portsmouth and many are planning to book with us.’
Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, is also optimistic about the port’s future, with 100 cruise liner bookings this year and plans to double this in 2022.
‘We’ve done a lot of investment to accommodate vessels like Scarlet Lady,’ he said.
‘She’s the biggest commercial ship we’ve ever had, Portsmouth is hoping to be one of the best cruise destinations in the UK.
‘We have the aircraft carriers, the ferries, commercial ships and now cruise liners like this. It really goes to show just what Portsmouth can do.’
Virgin Voyages was contacted for comment.