New Deepwater Berth Opens for Larger Cruise Ships

The newest deepwater berth has officially opened at Portland Port, just in time for a record-breaking cruise season.

Portland Port in Dorset, UK has officially opened a new deepwater berth, with more than 150 guests on hand to celebrate the occasion. The new berth is part of a £26 million ($33 million USD) development project, the largest in the port’s history, and will enable the port to welcome two 350-meter (1,148 feet) ships simultaneously.

New Berth Now Open at Portland Port

The newest berth at Portland Port has officially opened and features an extended, deepwater berth 250m (820 feet) long with alongside water depth of 12m (39 feet), making it capable of handling larger cruise ships such as Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum-class vessels, Carnival Cruise Line’s Excel-class ships, or the largest ships from Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line.

To mark the occasion, the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of port employees, tenants, dignitaries, and other invitees.

New Portland Deep Water Birth Ceremony
New Portland Deep Water Birth (Photo Courtesy: Portland Port)

The development project began in September 2022, and also includes a 75m (246 feet) extension to the existing Outer Coaling Pier, which can be used as a cruise berth for vessels up to 250m (820 feet). Quayside space has been extended by 16,000 square meters, meaning that two large vessels can be docked simultaneously.

“This redevelopment is a tremendous vote of confidence in the port and the local economy,” said Bill Reeves, chief executive of Portland Port.

“It is the largest single investment in Portland Port and its infrastructure in its history, and one of the large redevelopment projects in the area in recent years. It sets the stage for significant further growth in the future at the port and for the local economy through jobs and local supply chain.”

The new berth actually opened April 28, 2023, with a visit from MSC Virtuosa, but the official opening ceremony was not held until June 23, 2023, when the finishing details of the facility were complete.

The scale of the project and the ambitious timeline – finishing the major redevelopment work in less than nine months – required amazing cooperation between development partners.

New Portland Deep Water Birth Ceremony
New Portland Deep Water Birth Ceremony (Photo Courtesy: Portland Port)

“I am delighted to see the berth fully operational having been delivered early and on budget,” said Kevin Valentine, managing director at Knights Brown, the construction and engineering company in charge of the project.

“When we embarked on delivering this for the port there were many who thought that it couldn’t be delivered within the required timescale, cost, and quality. However, through true collaboration between all partners on the project we have achieved everything that we set out to.”

Cruising to Dorset

Portland Port is expecting a record number of cruise travelers to pass through the port over the cruise season, with as many as 130,000 travelers making use of the facility.

In total, cruise travel will bring an estimated £10 million ($12.7 million USD) to the local economy, and the cruise season runs from April through the end of October or into early November.

The port has been in commercial operation since 1996, and this year, vessels from Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, TUI Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, and more are scheduled to visit to enjoy the region’s unique history, natural beauty, and distinctly English character.

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