THE FINAL voyage of an iconic cruise ship was marked by Portsmouth with a spectacular fireworks extravaganza.
The Saga Pearl II cruise ship has been a regular visitor to Portsmouth since her inaugural cruise in 2010.
As she left the city’s harbour for the last time on Saturday evening her final voyage was greeted by a crescendo of noise and a vast array of colourful explosions which illuminated the night sky.
As she prepared for her final journey, Captain Nick Sunderland said: ‘My first cruises as a Saga captain were aboard Saga Pearl II and she’ll always have a special place in my heart. She really is like a large yacht with her beautiful teak decks. Taking her helm feels different from any other cruise ship.’
Saga Pearl II was bought by the company in 2009 before undergoing a £20 million refurbishment to create the colourful decor and luxurious interior for which she became famous.
Whilst the relationship with one vessel draws to a close it is hoped that the sight of cruise ships departing Portsmouth for exotic destinations will soon become a regular occurrence.
As reported by The News, the city council is looking to spend £18.7m on developing Portsmouth as a global cruise destination. With the proposal now approved, investment has been earmarked for levelling work to take place on the port’s cruise berth and to modernise facilities and improve the capacity and efficiency of the current terminal building.
Councillor Ben Dowling, Portsmouth City Council’s head of economic development, said: ‘The cruise industry is a market we have a real opportunity to develop, if we provide industry standard infrastructure. Major operators are keen to use Portsmouth and we hope to double the number of cruise calls into the city over the next two years. The increase in visitors to the city would have huge benefits for local businesses as would the additional berthing fees for the ships at the port.’
While it may be the end of the line for one cruise ship, Cllr Dowling hopes it could be the dawn of a new era for the city as a globally renowned cruise destination.