Isle of Man develops tours whilst a dedicated deepwater berth is under discussion
A project is underway to build a cruise-dedicated deepwater berth on the Isle of Man. An initial feasibility study has already taken place and it is now a question of demonstrating its viability to the government. The plan is to secure private investment which would be underwritten by the government.
The hope is for a berth of upwards of 350m in length although the proposal puts forward two options: 240m or 450m. At present ships up to 150m in length can come alongside.
This year there were 23 calls and 6,385 passengers setting two new records for the Island. Eleven of the ships docked alongside the Victoria Pier including Tauck which called for the first time this year and will return in 2018. Inaugural calls were made by Midnatsol, Silver Whisper, Star Pride, Aegean Odyssey, Seabourn Quest and Saga Pearl II. Holland America Line’s Rotterdam is the largest to anchor to date although there are no size limitations. On June 12 the 50,000th passenger arrived on Hebridean Sky.
Average passenger spend per day this year was £46 (€52) compared to £34 in 2016. This amounts to about £190,000 (€215,000) in total this year compared to £120,000 last year.
New tours are being developed, such as a journey from Port Erin to Douglas on a vintage steam train with restored dining cars which includes a tasting menu of Manx produce for up to 88 people. These tours are designed to be exclusive and flexible and are tailored to suit the cruiseline’s requirements. There are many local artisans involved in making spirits, beers, juices, cheeses, breads, meat products etc which can be included in bespoke tours or delivered to the ship for a sailaway dinner.
Prior to each arrival, all the stakeholders gather for a meeting to ensure the best possible visit. Seonad Duggan, cruise market consultant, Department of Economic Development Isle of Man, said: “We have a very strong team.”
This has proved particularly useful during poor weather. “We have had some bad weather this year but we are able to reposition the ships to the sheltered coast where the shore excursions were waiting. The entire team work together to change things very quickly so we don’t lose the call.”