Up to 150,000 cruise passengers annually could visit Portsmouth over the coming years, as the port prepares to start work on improving facilities.
Engineering work to reconfigure the cruise berth is scheduled to take place from November 2019 to spring 2020. Once complete it will mean the port can handle ships up to 255m in length.
The port expects 50 calls in 2019, representing 50,000 passengers. The overall aim is to grow to more than 100 calls by 2022, delivering over 150,000 passengers.
Officials hope the expansion will lead to regular calls from a number of cruise lines such as Silversea, Crystal Cruises, Fred Olsen, Saga and Cruise & Maritime Voyages.
Portsmouth International Port director Mike Sellers said: “Portsmouth is in an enviable location for cruise, with world famous attractions and a dramatic waterfront and there are plenty of opportunities to grow the city’s share of the market.
“More passengers will also drive demand for additional hotels, an increased spend in shops and restaurants, not to mention putting Portsmouth on the international map. The recent arrival of the Normandy veterans aboard Fred Olsen’s Boudicca, for D-Day 75 commemorations, proves we have a high-profile position as a UK port.
“This is the start of an incredibly exciting and bold plan for cruise. Over the next few years there will be a remarkable difference in how Portsmouth is perceived as a leading competitor thanks to our experienced cruise experts who have recently joined the senior management team.”
The port’s head of operations Ian Diaper added that once the berth expansion is complete thoughts will turn to updating the terminal building to accommodate up to 2,000 cruise guests, “which will mean additional check-in desks, security and lounge facilities, plus a baggage hall able to handle the passenger volumes expected”.
He added: “Being in a position where we can accommodate the size of ships major lines have in their fleet means we’re in a great place to attract over 100 calls in the small, mid-size luxury and expedition cruise sector.
“The cruise market is rapidly growing, with lines looking to diversify and attract a broader share of potential customers. Many cruise lines are also increasing their fleet with new vessels on order, so we have a real opportunity to accommodate demand.”