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Regal Princess hosts Cruise Britain summer event in Portland

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L-R: Capt. Tim Stringer, chair of Cruise Britain and GM for Portland Port Ian McQuade and Regal Princess' atrium
Cruise Britain members gathered in Portland June 13-14 to exchange knowledge and best practice, and watch presentations and a panel discussion, with Regal Princess the setting for yesterday's programme.

‘At Portland, we’ve been quite keen to host an event,’ Ian McQuade, chair of Cruise Britain and GM for Portland Port told Seatrade Cruise. ‘It seemed like a great way to combine these wishes with those of Cruise Britain. The stars aligned and we were able to pull it all together at the right time.’  

It comes a week before the grand launch of Portland’s new deepwater berth, completed in eight months at a cost of £26m according to the port's CEO Bill Reeves. It will enable Portland to handle two 350mtr cruise ships simultaneously. MSC Virtuosa was the first to utilise the berth on April 28. There will be nine days this season when Portland will handle two ships at the same time.

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A view of the new deepwater berth

The port clocked up just over 100,000 passengers in 2022 and expects to receive 127,000 this year. 

Portland Port contributes approximately £10m to the local economy from cruise activity alone. 

On board Regal Princess 

Director for Cruise Britain, Kay Greenway, reemphasised yesterday on board Regal Princess that the UK should see an 8% growth in terms of port calls in 2023 while Kate O’Hara, cruise manager at Fowey Harbour and policy manager – ferry and cruise, UK Chamber of Shipping, assured members that clarification is being sought on regulatory issues where ‘the water is still muddy.’

Louis Colpitts, cruise operations manager, Cruise & Passenger Services (CPS) then took to the podium for a presentation on how to utilize social media, followed by Simon O’Sullivan, head of Balkans, Italy & Northern Europe at Intercruises who gave an overview of the company and its successes. Amanda Lumley, CEO, Destination Plymouth went on to discuss the multiple Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEP) announced in April in response to The de Bois Review; VisitEngland is rolling out the 15 LVEPs with the government supporting one pilot Destination Development Partnership (DDP) up until 2025, heralding a new tourism landscape.

Representatives of the local Abbotsbury Swannery and Athelhampton House also gave a sneak peek into what these attractions can offer cruise passengers.

Princess Cruises & Carnival UK

Sander Groothuis, VP port & shore operations at Carnival UK advised Cruise Britain members not to ‘bite off more than you can chew’ in order to prevent congestion if operators decide to frequent British water more frequently. ‘Never miss a chance to prove yourself as a destination,’ was another key piece of advice, as he said, ‘You do a good job convincing us to bring the ships in, but when we’re there, you better deliver because the [passenger satisfaction] scores will come back to the deployment team…’ He said round UK itineraries were becoming ‘a more established offering,’ but urged attendees to be specific on what they can offer cruise lines, provide updates on what is happening locally that may affect cruise calls and encouraged the destinations to host cruise lines so they can see firsthand what is on offer.

Hayley Moore, director of marketing, Princess Cruises joined Groothuis in participating in the Q&A moderated by Mary Bond, group director, Seatrade Cruise. Moore played a video that gave a flavour of Star Princess launching in August 2025, highlighted the line’s 2030 goals and 2050 aspirations for sustainability, and expressed a desire for greater collaboration with destinations on shore power and waste management. ‘Sustainability… is a global challenge and we all play a part in meeting that challenge together,’ she said.

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Mary Bond, Sander Groothuis and Hayley Moore

Ship tour

The day concluded with a tour of Regal Princess, including a trip to the bridge. Speaking to Cruise Britain members, capt. Tim Stringer praised the collaboration between destinations in the UK and described some of the ports’ close proximity to one another as often helpful. He described Regal Princess' current British Isles programme as ‘an exciting itinerary for us’ attracting a number of US passengers seeking to trace their heritage.  

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Cruise Britain members peruse Regal Princess' art gallery and learn about Princess Cruises' MedallionClass concept

Networking event

The balmy, summer evening of June 13 saw Cruise Britain members network and dine at the Ebike Café @ Deheers overlooking Weymouth’s picturesque old harbour. Many of the more than 50 delegates who attended the summer gathering stayed overnight in Weymouth and Portland. Concluded McQuade, 'It was a privilege to host this prestigious cruise gathering and welcome delegates from across the country to celebrate our world-class industry and the role it plays in supporting the economy and promoting Britain’s place in the world.

‘Our thanks go to all involved, in particular the staff and crew of the beautiful Regal Princess, who helped make the event such a success.’

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Ebike Café @ Deheers