Viking Saturn: Boutique cruise ship given warm Portsmouth welcome as she makes historic visit

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Champagne glasses were raised to mark the historic moment where a luxury cruise ship made her maiden voyage to Portsmouth.

Viking Saturn sailed into Portsmouth International Port this morning, bringing hundreds of tourists to the city. A ceremonial plaque exchange was carried out between Port director Mike Sellers and ship captain Anders Steen.

Mr Sellers said it was a pleasure to welcome Viking Saturn’s crew and guests. He told The News: “We always do the plaque exchange when there is an inaugural call. It’s a proud moment and we’re really proud of the types of ships we’re attracting here, and really putting Portsmouth on the map.

Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Pictured is: (l-r) Vanessa Busfield (73) lead meet and greet ambassador at Shaping Portsmouth, Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port, Anders Steen, master. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-361)Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Pictured is: (l-r) Vanessa Busfield (73) lead meet and greet ambassador at Shaping Portsmouth, Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port, Anders Steen, master. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-361)
Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Pictured is: (l-r) Vanessa Busfield (73) lead meet and greet ambassador at Shaping Portsmouth, Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port, Anders Steen, master. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-361) | Sarah Standing

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Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Pictured is: (l-r) Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port and Anders Steen, master. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-354)Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Pictured is: (l-r) Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port and Anders Steen, master. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-354)
Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Pictured is: (l-r) Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port and Anders Steen, master. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-354) | Sarah Standing

“Viking Saturn is a fantastic ship and you see it just by walking around. It really fits the business which we’re trying to attract to Portsmouth, which is the boutique cruises, high-end experiences and the tourist calls. This is bringing passengers into the city, which generates a lot of money. Just one of these ships can generate £1.5m, so the more ships we can attract to the city, the greater the benefits.

“We have exponential growth of cruise ships coming into the port. It just seems to go from strength to strength.” The all-veranda small ship is on a voyage across Europe on her Trade Routes of The Middle Ages expedition. Setting off from Bergen in Norway, Viking Saturn has sailed across the North Sea to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Bruges in Belgium and Le Havre in France before visiting Portsmouth.

Pictured is: Vanessa Busfield (73) lead meet and greet ambassador at Shaping Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-7314)Pictured is: Vanessa Busfield (73) lead meet and greet ambassador at Shaping Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-7314)
Pictured is: Vanessa Busfield (73) lead meet and greet ambassador at Shaping Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-7314) | Sarah Standing
Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-429)Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-429)
Viking Saturn cruise ship visited Portsmouth International Port on Thursday, April 11, 2024.Picture: Sarah Standing (110424-429) | Sarah Standing

She is then bound for Falmouth, Porto in Portugal and Granada, Murcia and Barcelona in Spain. Mr Sellers added that the luxurious vessel, which is 745 feet long, has a Scandinavian and very modern feel. He said more ships like her will be sailing into the port very soon.

“This year is our busiest ever year, next year we’ll beat that,” Mr Sellers added. “Our business model will move us to 150-200 cruise calls of this size. This has been from day one the type of business we’re looking to attract.”

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The port director said the better the welcome provided to tourists, the more likely they are to return. Volunteers from charity Shaping Portsmouth play an integral part in that process.

Vanessa Busfield, lead meet and greet ambassador, said it’s an honour and a pleasure to be in her role. She said: “Every time I come to port to welcome people, I get a buzz. I love what I’m doing. I’m here for every ship, before it arrives and until it leaves. I think we have the most incredible city that we can show everyone.”

Ms Busfield said Portsmouth has everything someone could possibly wish for, from shopping and restaurants to the Historic Dockyard and other tourist sites. The 73-year-old has been an ambassador for over eight years, and has been involved in the travel role for two years - only missing two ship visits.

She has worked on Thomson cruise ships and can speak several languages. “This really is my part of the world,” she added. “I’ve done a lot of travelling, and I can talk to a lot of people about a lot of things.

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“It’s a great opportunity to show people that we love having visitors to Portsmouth. We would love to have a lot more volunteers, as we’re getting busier and busier, and sometimes we have 2,000 passengers visiting at once. The more the merrier.”

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