Monday, February 19, 2024 - 17:50 by portland

Portland Port welcomed its first cruise ship of 2024 when the AIDAsol arrived with more than 2,000 passengers today. (MON FEBRUARY 19, 2024)

The call marked the start of an 11-month long season with 47 vessel visits and 110,000 passengers due in South Dorset from February to December.

Guests from the ship, which is operated by AIDA Cruises for mostly German speaking tourists, travelled into Weymouth and the local area during the eight-hour stop over.

Cruise calls are estimated to contribute £10m to the local economy annually with most calls booked two years in advance.

Ian McQuade said: “It was wonderful to see our first cruise ship of 2024 arrive.

“The cruise market continues to grow in the UK and globally. A great deal of hard work constantly goes into winning valuable cruise business for Portland in the face of tough competition across the UK and Europe.

“The vast majority of cruise calls this year were booked two years ago in 2022 and we are already well advanced in planning our itinerary for 2025 and 2026.

“As well as raising the profile of the area and contributing to the local economy, cruise ship visits extend the tourist season beyond the summer peak.

“We’re grateful for the warm welcome and support provided by local residents, businesses, tourist attractions and organisations who see the benefit of cruise visits for the area.

“We’re looking forward to another superb year sharing the delights of our area with tourists from all over the world whilst supporting the growth of the local economy.”

A total of 2,194 passengers plus more than 600 crew arrived on the AIDAsol when she pulled alongside the port’s new £26m deepwater berth this morning.

She visited Portland as the penultimate stop of a 117-day world tour, which ends in Hamburg on February 21. It was her inaugural visit to Portland, the first of five calls at the port this year.

There are cruise calls in 10 out of 12 months this year at Portland – all months except January and March.

Vessels due at Portland include the Disney Dream in September, the Caribbean Princess in May, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3 in June, Oceania Nautica in August and, Holland America’s Rotterdam in October before the final call of the season on December 10 by the AIDAmar.

Portland Port is also to welcome two first time French visitors, Ponant vessel Le Champlain and CFC’s Renaissance. CFC is a new French cruise line that started operations last year and is planning to make three calls at Portland in 2024.

There are a total of nine inaugural calls this year. As well as AIDAsol, Le Champlain and Renaissance, they are Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess and Caribbean Princess, Norwegian Cruises Lines’ Norwegian Pearl, Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Mariner, Seabourn’s Seabourn Sojurn and Oceania Cruises’ Sirena.

The Sun Princess is not only making her inaugural visit to Portland, she is also a brand new ship in her inaugural season.

Portland Port supplies a complimentary shuttle service for cruise passengers to visit Weymouth, which remains under constant review to ensure it operates in the best way possible.

The port has contracted a professional traffic management company for all calls, which includes the provision of traffic marshals, and has worked with bus operators to stagger the arrival of vehicles and limit the number on the road at any one time.

The port’s £10m contribution to the local economy is based on industry figures and includes spending by day excursion visitors to shops, bars, cafes and takeaways, along with expenditure on numerous local tourism attractions, tours of the UNESCO world heritage sites of the Jurassic Coast, Stonehenge and Bath, taxis and coaches.

Latest figures by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) trade body estimate that cruise passenger numbers will reach 36 million in 2024 - well up on 31.5m in 2023. They are expected to rise to 37.2m in 2025, 38.5m in 2026 and 39.5m in 2027.

According to CLIA, 63% of cruise visitors revisit a destination they first visited on a cruise call – offering the potential for long term benefits for Weymouth and Portland as well as on the day of a cruise call itself.

Portland Port has invested heavily in its infrastructure over several years, the largest investment being £26m on its deep-water-berth, to increase capacity and capability.

This has allowed the port to welcome larger vessels, including ships up to 350m in length on opposite berths on the same day.

The Portland Port estate provides employment for circa 300 people in non-seasonal work. The port itself directly employs 57 in this total. About half of the people employed live on Portland and the rest in Weymouth, or very close by.

There are also indirect employees - such as at hauliers and suppliers - as a consequence of direct employment.

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