Portland UK welcomes record 5000 passengers in first cruise ship call at the new deepwater berth

   May 8, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Portland Port (Weymouth, Dorset England) has set a new record with the arrival of MSC Virtuosa, which brought ~5000 passengers on board, the highest number of guests ever received by the port from a single vessel. MSC Virtuosa was also the first cruise ship to use the newly developed deep-water berth of the port, which is part of a £26m redevelopment project aimed at enhancing the port's capacity and fostering growth.

During Virtuosa's 12-hour stay, tourists enjoyed the port-provided complimentary bus transportation to explore Weymouth and the nearby areas.

Ian McQuade (Portland Port’s commercial general manager) said the ship's arrival marked 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.”

The redevelopment of Portland's deepwater quays will not only improve its cruise and cargo handling capabilities but also enhance its services for ships such as those belonging to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The port redevelopment is essential to cope with the increasing demand, including larger passenger vessels with max LOA length 350 m/1148 ft.

The recent visit of the MSC Virtuosa to the port with 5000 passengers and 1500 crew was part of a 4-day "Portland and Cherbourg Getaway" roundtrip from Southampton. It was the 4th cruise call this year and the first of the 18 scheduled calls in May. Virtuosa previously visited Portland in 2021 as the first cruise liner to call after the COVID crisis. The ship is expected to return later this year.

In April, two other vessels, Holland America's Zuiderdam and Hurtigruten’s Otto Sverdrup, also made their maiden port calls on consecutive days.

Isle of Portland (Weymouth, Dorset England)

Image: Isle of Portland (Weymouth, Dorset England)

South Dorset's Portland Port has been operating commercially since 1996 and provides a variety of maritime and marine-related services, as well as leasing properties to commercial tenants.