Despite COVID-19, cruise ship terminal operator, the UK’s Portland Port is open for business.
Appropriate restrictions and safety measures have been put into place to protect the port’s staff, contractors, customers and the local population, the port’s management explained.
Where possible, port staff have been working from home since the lockdown began, however this is obviously not possible for all staff, as pilots, marine officers, police and security are crucial to the port’s ability to operate and maintain its integrity.
Prior to any vessel arriving in Portland’s waters or berthing, they have to provide the necessary health declarations, and where necessary, the local Port Health Authority are consulted.
Even though the port remains open, it has experienced some drop off in business due to the current situation, it admitted. Some of the hardest hit businesses in the maritime industry, are the cruise lines.
Portland Port’s cruise business, as with all ports worldwide that receive transit or turnaround calls from cruise ships, has been massively impacted.
The last ship to call was the ‘Saga Sapphire’ on 14th March. She was in the final days of her cruise before disembarking passengers and entering a suspension phase. This year was meant to be a record year for the port, with 44 ships and more than 75,000 passengers scheduled to arrive, however, the port has experienced cancellation of its programme for April, May and June.
The next ship is not currently due until 15th July, but it remains to be seen if cruising will be able to start again by this time. With changes still being made and the cruise line’s suspension being constantly reviewed, it is hard to predict how many cruise ships will have called by the end of 2020, the port admitted.
Some cruise ships are now anchored in Weymouth Bay, which is a free anchorage. The ships anchored do not have any passengers on board and have been moving to and from nearby Southampton.
Portland Port has offered its support to the cruise industry. Whilst the port may not be busy, marketing continues to prepare and plan for the future, an essential process for when the UK and the rest of the world starts the long road to recovery, the port concluded.