THE company that provides thousands of tourists with harbour tours each year is investing £1.5 million in its fleet.
Solent and Wightline Cruises is based on the Isle of Wight, but operates the tours around Portsmouth Harbour from both the Historic Dockyard and Gunwharf Quays.
It has spent the money on commissioning a new catamaran for the fleet, meaning improvements for the 4,000 passengers the company takes on its tours around the harbour each year.
The firm’s co-owner Lee Rayment said: ‘It has been a busy year for us, but we are looking to modernise the fleet we have.
‘We’ve had the busiest year ever this year, as the new Mary Rose museum has brought more people into the historic dockyard, and the weather this summer has made a huge difference.
‘There’s no doubt the museum is good for Portsmouth though.’
The new catamaran is being built in Portland, but Mr Rayment’s firm will take on the fit-out itself.
‘We want it to be ready for next summer, and we think it’ll be ready in May or June,’ he said.
‘Hopefully it will get more people down here.
‘By the end of this year we’ll have carried 40,000 people on the harbour tours, which shows they are a good attraction.
‘People like them because Portsmouth is ever-changing – the ships coming in are always different.’
The firm has nine vessels in its fleet, and also transfers guests to and from the Spitbank Fort venue, as well as transporting people from the island over to Portsmouth to shop at Gunwharf Quays.
It recently sold a ship to a firm in Scotland, which has part-funded the new investment.