Portsmouth International Port is set to welcome 150,000 cruise passengers annually in the next few years, following the announcement construction firm Knights Brown will lead the multi-million pound project to increase the size of cruise ships the Port can manage.
From November the biggest cruise investment the city has seen gets underway, this involves complex engineering work to reconfigure the cruise berth, meaning once completed by spring next year the Port can handle ships up to 255m in length.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said: "This is fantastic news for the city. Portsmouth is in an enviable location for cruise, with world famous attractions and a dramatic waterfront, 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.
"With 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.
“A successful cruise and ferry port provides a wide benefit to the city including a significant contribution to the council’s budget, employment, increased sales for tourist attractions, not to mention an opportunity for residents to experience convenient travel abroad. This year alone you could travel to exotic locations in South Africa, Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords, Iceland, around the British Isles, and beyond.
"More importantly the growth in revenue providing a source of income to help support critical council services and the most vulnerable in our city."
Increasing the length of ships the port can manage up to 255m opens up more of the cruise market for the city, making the possibility of visits from the major lines such as Silverseas, Crystal, Fred Olsen, Saga, CMV, a regular occurrence.
Ian Diaper Portsmouth International Port's head of operations said: "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.
"Once the cruise berth extension is complete we'll then turn our attention to transforming the current terminal building in anticipation for an upsurge in passengers. We'll be looking 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.
"Portsmouth has great advantages as a cruise port, the direct access to the motorway, the closest on the South coast to the main shipping channels, fantastic local attractions and a committed team with industry experience."
The council's regeneration directorate will be overseeing the construction phase. The current cruise berth is set at two different levels making it particularly challenging for accessing certain ships, the essential levelling and extension works and the creation of an additional dolphin - a fixed, permanent structure, separate to the berth, which acts as an extension for mooring - will mean ships up to 255m will be safely, and conveniently, handled at the Port.
Anisa Koci, Portsmouth City Council's project manager said: "What appears to be a fairly straightforward engineering project is in fact incredibly complex.
"Managing construction within a marine environment is challenging, and combined with a busy port and frequent ship movements, means we've appointed Knights Brown who have experience in delivering major civil engineering projects.
"The work involves making structural alterations to the existing quay and developing options to extend, all within a time frame that accommodates the scheduled cruise vessels."
The Port has seen a steady number of cruise calls, with 50 expected in 2019 resulting in 50,000 passengers. The aim is to grow to over 100 by 2022, delivering over 150,000 passengers.
Portsmouth's recent cruise calls have been Viking, Ponant, Noble Calendonia, Phoenix Reisen, Sea Cloud, Saga, Fred Olsen, Majestic FTI, CMV, Silverseas, Hapag-Lloyd, Quark and Sea Cloud.