PORTSMOUTH is to lose around a third of its cruise liner trade after a holiday firm went bust.
All Leisure Holidays, which owns cruise firms calling into the city, has cancelled thousands of bookings and left hundreds of holidaymakers in the lurch after it collapsed.
...Portsmouth International Port will work closely with the administrator to see if there is anything that can be salvaged in terms of bookings made by the company in 2017 and 2018.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
It means 19 sailings scheduled to run in and out of the city’s port by ALH’s cruise firms in 2017/2018 – Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean Island Cruises – will be axed.
More than 50 cruise ships in total were originally expected to dock in Portsmouth in 2017, an increase on 34 in the city last year.
It’s believed port officials were set to meet today to discuss the impact.
Yet Tory council leader, Councillor Donna Jones, remains optimistic.
Cllr Jones said: ‘While it’s deeply disappointing to have heard of this company going into administration, Portsmouth International Port will work closely with the administrator to see if there is anything that can be salvaged in terms of bookings made by the company in 2017 and 2018.’
Cllr Jones said the port remained ‘in a strong position’ and the expected loss was ‘less than one per cent’ of the £15m a year generated in port fees – money ships pay to use the facility.
It comes despite a deal being signed last year to allow Minerva, run by Swan Hellenic, to continue sailings to northern Europe, the Baltic and Scandinavia until at least 2018.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it will ensure the company’s 400 holidaymakers currently abroad will be repatriated at no extra cost under the terms of the Air Travel Organisers Licence (Atol) protection scheme, which safeguards package holidaymakers. Most of those customers are near Malaysia and around the Mediterranean, the CAA said.
The majority of the company’s 150 employees were made redundant shortly after the company fell into administration and all future bookings have been cancelled, leaving about 13,000 people seeking refunds.
Around two-thirds of customers are protected under the Atol scheme while remaining holidaymakers on UK departing cruises will be able to get their money back.
Andy Cohen, head of Atol at the CAA, said: ‘We understand this will be concerning news for anyone who has booked to travel with the company.
‘However, the Atol scheme exists for exactly this kind of situation and we are making immediate arrangements so all Atol-protected customers can claim full refunds as quickly as possible.’
Portsmouth Lib Dem leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, was due to sail on the Minerva to the Baltic in May.
He said: ‘The port is part of the council, so that means the council will have lost money. It’s a big hole in the strategy of trying to get cruise ships to use Portsmouth.’