The UK’s Portland Port played host to a record 5,000 pax in the first cruise call at its newly developed deepwater berth.
‘MSC Virtuosa’ is the first cruise ship to use the port’s new berth, which is part of a £26 mill redevelopment project to boost capacity and drive growth.
Ian McQuade, Portland Port’s Commercial General Manager, said: “The arrival of the ‘MSC Virtuosa’ marks a major milestone for the port.
“She has brought the greatest number of passengers of any single cruise ship by some margin, considerably more than our previous record of 3,500. Guests from the ship have used our fleet of over 12 complimentary buses to explore the local area and its attractions. They are among a record 130,000 guests who will be visiting Portland on cruise ships this year.
“It is exciting to see our new berth in operation for the first time as part of the largest ever investment in the port and its infrastructure. Increasing our capacity and facilities is key to the development of the port, its continued growth and our ability to build upon our contribution to the local economy, which stands at about £10 mill from cruise calls alone,” he said.
Redevelopment of deepwater quays at the port will enhance its cruise and cargo handling operations, as well as its service provision to vessels, including those from the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
It will enable the port to meet rising demand and keep ahead of the trend for increasing sizes of cruise ships, including those of up to 350 m in length.
The 181,541 gt ‘MSC Virtuosa’ measures 331 m in length, 43 m beam, is 65 m in height and has a crew of 1,500.
She last visited Portland in 2021 when she was the first cruise ship to call after the Covid pandemic although with fewer passengers. She is due to return later this year.
‘MSC Virtuosa’ is the fourth cruise ship call of the year at Portland, and is the first of 18 calls between now and the end of May.
Calls have already been made by Holland America Lines’ ‘Zuiderdam’ and Hurtigruten’s ‘Otto Sverdrup’, which both made their inaugural visits to the port when they stopped on consecutive days earlier in April.