Dorset port welcomes first cruise passengers of the year

Portland Port has welcomed its first cruise ship of 2024 when the AIDAsol arrived with more than 2,000 passengers.

The call marked the start of an 11-month long season with 47 vessel visits and 110,000 passengers due in South Dorset from February to December.

Guests from the ship, which is operated by AIDA Cruises for mostly German speaking tourists, travelled into Weymouth and the local area during the eight-hour stop over.

Cruise calls are estimated to contribute £10m to the local economy annually with most calls booked two years in advance.

Ian McQuade said: “It was wonderful to see our first cruise ship of 2024 arrive.

“The cruise market continues to grow in the UK and globally. A great deal of hard work constantly goes into winning valuable cruise business for Portland in the face of tough competition across the UK and Europe.

“The vast majority of cruise calls this year were booked two years ago in 2022 and we are already well advanced in planning our itinerary for 2025 and 2026.

“As well as raising the profile of the area and contributing to the local economy, cruise ship visits extend the tourist season beyond the summer peak.

“We’re grateful for the warm welcome and support provided by local residents, businesses, tourist attractions and organisations who see the benefit of cruise visits for the area.

“We’re looking forward to another superb year sharing the delights of our area with tourists from all over the world whilst supporting the growth of the local economy.”

A total of 2,194 passengers plus more than 600 crew arrived on the AIDAsol when she pulled alongside the port’s new £26m deepwater berth this morning.

She visited Portland as the penultimate stop of a 117-day world tour, which ends in Hamburg on February 21. It was her inaugural visit to Portland, the first of five calls at the port this year.

There are cruise calls in 10 out of 12 months this year at Portland – all months except January and March.

Vessels due at Portland include the Disney Dream in September, the Caribbean Princess in May, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3 in June, Oceania Nautica in August and, Holland America’s Rotterdam in October before the final call of the season on December 10 by the AIDAmar.

Portland Port is also to welcome two first time French visitors, Ponant vessel Le Champlain and CFC’s Renaissance. CFC is a new French cruise line that started operations last year and is planning to make three calls at Portland in 2024.

There are a total of nine inaugural calls this year. As well as AIDAsol, Le Champlain and Renaissance, they are Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess and Caribbean Princess, Norwegian Cruises Lines’ Norwegian Pearl, Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Mariner, Seabourn’s Seabourn Sojurn and Oceania Cruises’ Sirena.

The Sun Princess is not only making her inaugural visit to Portland, she is also a brand new ship in her inaugural season.