Miles Carden, the CEO of Falmouth Harbour, has confirmed that 2023 was a record year for cruise ship calls with 44 visits to the Cornish port, compared to 29 in 2022 (see ICSI’s UK Report).
Eleven of the largest ships anchored in Falmouth Bay and Carrick Roads, he said, while the other 33 cruise ships berthed at A&P Falmouth’s dock facilities near the town centre.
One, the 216 m cruise ship ‘Ambition’, operated by Ambassador Cruise Line , made four visits to Falmouth this year, including a passenger turnaround for the first time.
This gave Cornish residents the opportunity to join a cruise from their home port without a long drive or flight. Ambassador is looking to continue this offering next year with several cruises from Falmouth UK and other European destinations, Carden advised.
“The popularity of cruise is growing and this year has proven that Falmouth Harbour can accommodate a full range of cruise ships, working closely with Cruise Britain and port partners, including A&P Falmouth and with our outstanding pilotage provision ensuring vessels can berth or anchor safely and on time.
“We want these ships and their passengers to have the very best experience here and to come back. The value to Falmouth and Cornwall is immense: with an estimated per passenger spend of £70, this season alone could be worth in the region of £4-6 mill,” he said.
A huge amount of work went into making this season a success with collaboration and teamwork between: A&P Group Limited, providing berthing, towage and cruise passenger reception; Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall Harbour ensuring safety of navigation; a team of Falmouth pilots who bring the vessels safely to berth or anchor; the volunteer Cruise Ambassadors – that give the passengers an amazing welcome; the Falmouth Town Team; Falmouth Town Council, UK and ships agents Graypen, GAC Group, Denholm and many others.
The idea that Ambassador could utilise Falmouth for passenger turnarounds originated from a Cruise Britain event, demonstrating how important this networking group is to the industry, he explained.
One of the largest vessels of the year to call was the 331 m ’MSC Virtuosa’, with a gross tonnage of 181,541 and a capacity for up to 6,200 guests. This size of ship can anchor comfortably in Falmouth Bay, overlooked on each side by Henry VIII’s twin castles.
Carden added that this season had a surprising ending with a long four day visit from Saga’s ’Spirit of Adventure’, as the vessel took shelter from storm Ciaran in Falmouth.