Portsmouth cruising towards a boom in mega liner visits

Crystal Symphony departing Portsmouth on Saturday evening. Picture by 'Tony Weaver
Crystal Symphony departing Portsmouth on Saturday evening. Picture by 'Tony Weaver
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MORE luxury cruise ships could be calling into Portsmouth in the future, a council boss has said.

Portsmouth City Council chief, councillor Donna Jones has said the island is fast becoming a destination hotspot for elite liners.

Her comments come just days after the city’s port welcomed the biggest cruise ship to ever visit the harbour.

Crystal Symphony stopped at the Portsmouth International Port for the weekend.

At 240m long and weighing in at 50,000 tonnes, the luxury liner dwarfed all the other vessels in the port.

And Cllr Jones said this visit could be the first of many which she hopes will strengthen the city’s maritime and tourism economy.

Portsmouth has so much to offer for cruise companies looking for something special for their customers

Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council leader

Speaking to The News, the Tory boss said Portsmouth City Council – which owns the port – had been focused on ‘growing the business’, having already invested in new infrastructure and improved berths at the site.

‘This lucrative market helps the wider city economy as passengers stay in local hotels the night before a cruise or spend their money in the city if it is a visiting cruise ship,’ she said.

‘I have been working closely with port director Mike Sellers and we have agreed the best ways to grow the business including having a presence at major cruise events around the world.

‘Portsmouth has so much to offer for cruise companies looking for something special for their customers.

‘We can offer a personal and bespoke service while boasting some of the oldest history in the UK with the Mary Rose, Southsea castle and the Historic Dockyard.’

Crystal Symphony is owned by Crystal Cruises and offers a ‘six star’ experience for passengers.

The impressive liner and her 800 passengers cruised past the Spinnaker Tower on Friday afternoon at the end of a trip around the British and Irish coastline, before leaving on Saturday evening.

It is the first time Crystal had chosen Portsmouth International Port, either as a port of call or as a turnaround facility.

The visit took months of planning by the port team in the city. Rupert Taylor, harbour master at the port, said: ‘I’m delighted that Crystal has chosen Portsmouth International Port.

‘We have worked hard to gain a reputation as a destination for small and medium sized luxury liners, and Crystal Symphony is one of the most highly-rated cruise ships in the world.

‘I’m sure this visit will be the first of many in the future for Crystal, as we look to build the cruise business at Portsmouth International Port and bring more visitors to our wonderful city.’

Over 2016 more than 2m passengers used the city’s international port.

It was the first time the figure had reached this height in five years, beating 2015’s total by three per cent.

The bulk of port users travel on ferries to France, Spain and the Channel Islands, with Brittany Ferries being the biggest operator.

Over the past few years, improvements have been made to deepen the harbour in preparation for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers.

This work now means larger ships are able to sail into the city’s dockyard.