Major infrastructure improvements that began in 2020 have culminated in the official opening of a cruise ship visitor center in Inverclyde, Scotland, home of the new Greenock Ocean Terminal.
Roughly 25 miles due west of Glasgow, the port held a launch ceremony on August 25, 2023, with government, port, and local business officials marking the milestone event.
Cruise Terminal Reflects $25M Investment
Scotland’s west coast port of Inverclyde, at the mouth of the River Clyde, celebrated the unveiling of its new $25 million cruise terminal and visitor center, which features an arrivals and departures hall, a museum/art gallery, and a restaurant.
A new cruise ship berth that was part of the project had already opened, and enables the port to accommodate ships up to 1,115 feet long at a floating pontoon berth. The maximum length enables most mega-ships to call, and is just shy of the 1,186-foot-length of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships.
Before its official opening, the visitor center was first made available to cruise passengers in June, when one of the world’s largest cruise liners – the 1,082-foot-long MSC Virtuosa, an MSC Cruises’ ship, berthed at the terminal.
The development of the Greenock Ocean Terminal and its new berth were intended to boost cruise visitor numbers to 150,000 guests per year, and the port has already exceeded that number.
Port officials in early 2023 were anticipating a robust year, with 91 cruise ships scheduled to call at Greenock Ocean Terminal, a 25% hike compared to last year.
The increase in cruise tourism will bring revenues of nearly $30 million to the local economy and has created more than 70 jobs — all welcome news for the region’s government representatives.
“The opening of the new Ocean Terminal is the result of the combined efforts of the public and private sector working together, including £5.2 million ($6.5 million US) investment from both the UK and Scottish governments, showing the power of working together to deliver for our communities,” UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said.
Local enthusiasm is high, particularly since the project’s funding was a partnership between various government entities and was financed in part by a massive $1.2 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal.
“This is a magnificent venue that Inverclyde can be proud of. Our warm welcome is famous around the world and now we have a first-class venue befitting of that for visitors from near and far to enjoy all-year round, as well as the local community,” said Provost of Inverclyde, Councillor Drew McKenzie.
Port Has a Historic Connection to Cunard
Inverclyde is comprised of three towns; Port Glasgow, Greenock, and Gourock, and a few small villages. The area has a shipbuilding and seafaring history, and offers visitors a wealth of outdoor activities plus a vibrant arts and culture scene.
The port has a long history with Cunard, as the shipyard where the first Cunard ship, and subsequent Cunard ships were built in the 19th century. That heritage made a port call by Cunard’s Queen Victoria on the day of the visitor center opening even more special. The 2,081-guest ship is currently sailing a 12-day Western Europe itinerary roundtrip from Southampton.
The new visitor center’s museum and art gallery is called the Wyllieum, and was named in honor of the late artist George Wyllie, who worked as a Customs Officer in Greenock.
“Just like George Wyllie’s work, our galleries, education hub and shop will be inspiring, welcoming, fun, and vibrant cultural spaces. We aim to break boundaries and speak to every age, not only to the local community of Inverclyde but also to our future national and international visitors,” said Michael Dale, chairman of the Wyllieum.
Inverclyde is not alone as a fast-growing cruise port in Scotland, as several other ports, such as Edinburgh and Dundee, also are seeing major increases in ship visits this year.