PORTSMOUTH International Port is anticipating a busy couple of years ahead as its cruise ship service takes off.
From April there will be 33 cruise ships calling at the port, almost six times the number which visited the city when the port first opened itself up to cruises in 2001.
The port’s management team say it will be a record year, and has been achieved by a carefully-managed growth plan designed to fit in with the port’s ferry operators.
To coincide with the start of the cruise ship season, the port will be opening its new £16.5m terminal at Easter.
It has been designed with cruise ship passengers in mind, including plenty of dry space for cruise passengers’ luggage to be stored prior to being transported to the ship.
The new facilities are one of the reasons why leading cruise operator, All Leisure Holidays, decided to base three ships at Portsmouth for the next five years.
The company, which includes the famous Swan Hellenic brand, has seen a significant rise in business since announcing Portsmouth as its UK homeport.
Port manager Martin Putman said: ‘We are proud to attract more cruise ships to Portsmouth and know the whole city benefits from our continued success.
‘Our new terminal is a powerful symbol of our continued determination to develop our business in a considered and sustainable way.’
Next year is also set to be a bumper year for cruise ships at Portsmouth, with 32 calls already booked in for 2012.
Mr Putman added that it was a ‘clear sign’ that Portsmouth is making its mark as a major UK cruise destination and departure point.
He added that the port’s transport links and the city’s naval heritage and historic landmarks are other reasons why cruise ships are choosing the city.