The UK’s Portland Port, located in Dorset, England, reaped the benefits of its newly-constructed deep-water berth when the port hosted its two largest cruise ships in one day. The record-breaking double port call delivered more than 7,000 cruise guests to the destination.
Mega-Ships Dock at Portland Port’s New Berth
Officials in Portland Port, UK, celebrated the double port call by Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Getaway on September 30, 2023, when they became the largest cruise ships to visit the port since it opened 27 years ago.
The 145,655-gross ton Norwegian Getaway, accommodating 4,000 guests, and the 141,000-guest Regal Princess, with capacity for 3,560 guests, together brought roughly 7,250 cruise guests into Portland Port and surrounding areas.
The ships docked at the port’s new $33 million deepwater berth, which was built so that the facility could host two large ships simultaneously.
With the new berth, the port can fit two ships up to 1,148 feet in length, meaning it can handle mega-ships even larger than Regal Princess and Norwegian Getaway, such as Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum-class vessels and Carnival Cruise Line’s Excel-class ships.
“The double-call broke a port record; the newly developed deep-water berth is testament to the unwavering belief port management had that the facility would attract international passenger ship vessels of up to 350 meters (1,148 feet) in length,” said Ian McQuade, Portland Port’s commercial general manager and chairman of Cruise Britain.
“The redevelopment project provided 16,000 square meters (172,000 square feet) of additional quayside space, with 11.7 meters (38 feet) of water depth, 380,000 tons of locally sourced infill material and 4,800 tons of steel,” McQuade added.
The new berth opened in April 2023, with a port call by MSC Cruises’ 5,000-guest MSC Virtuosa, but the official opening ceremony was held in June 23, 2023, after the finishing details of the facility were completed.
Cruise Arrivals, Ship Calls Also Break Records
Besides welcoming the two largest vessels in its history, the port is also breaking records in 2023, with 57 total cruise ship calls and a record number of cruise arrivals, which is expected to reach 130,000.
The port, on September 30, 2023, also marked a record number of guests taking advantage of its free shuttle bus service to sightseeing attractions such as Portland Castle and the historic beach town of Weymouth. More than 4,000 passengers from the two ships boarded the shuttle service, bringing an important economic boost to the region as its cruise season winds down.
Many cruisers from both ships ventured farther afield on shore excursions to other locations along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, named for its abundance of fossils from the Jurassic era, some 200 million years ago. The port also has experienced a busy late-summer and fall season, enabling it to reap more financial benefits.
“There was another new record when 18 cruise calls arrived between the tail end of August and the end of September, with an estimated £3.6 million ($4.3 million US) generated in the local economy,” said Portland Port’s McQuade.
The spending estimate includes visits to local retailers and restaurants, plus taxis, and various tourism attractions in the region.
While winter cruising in the British Isles is limited, the port has more ship calls scheduled during the off-season months. In fact, cruise ships are slated to visit Portland Port in 10 of the 12 calendar months.
In 2024, cruise ship calls are already scheduled for all months except January and March. The port is privately owned by the Portland Port Group.
Regal Princess called at Portland Port during her 25-day repositioning transatlantic cruise from Southampton, UK, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Norwegian Getaway visited the port during a 16-day Northern Europe cruise, roundtrip from Southampton.