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The Port of Tyne’s buoyant cruise business is poised to deliver a further shot in the arm for the regional economy with record numbers of cruise ships booked for this season – and next.
Cruise ships are big business for the local economy, as, in addition to daily passenger ferries from Amsterdam, they bring thousands of visitors to the region who spend their holiday money in shops, restaurants, pubs, hotels and visitor attractions.
In total more than 600,000 passengers travelled through the Port of Tyne’s International Terminal at North Shields in 2011. They included over 35,000 visitors coming in on cruise ships and over 300,000 people travelling on the Amsterdam DFDS ferry route to spend time in the North East. This is estimated by consultants, Arup, to be worth over £45m to the region, and supports 1,700 jobs outside the Port.
At least 37 cruise ships are expected to berth at the Port of Tyne this year – up from 20 in 2011. The Port of Tyne was named the UK’s Best Port of Call by cruisecritic.com, cruise fans’ advisory website.
More holidaymakers than ever before will be able to board their cruise ship from the North East, with a record 17 cruises due to start their voyage at the Port of Tyne in 2012.
And there is an even greater choice of destinations with Alicante and Malaga in Spain and great cities such as Lisbon in Portugal and St Petersburg in Russia on the schedules as well as Scandinavia and Northern Europe.
The success is due to work by the Port of Tyne in partnership with Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, North Tyneside Council and regional visitor attractions to persuade the cruise operators’ itinerary planners to make sure their ships make a stop at the Port of Tyne – and come back again the next year.
With that in mind, the Port of Tyne is this week in the USA as a partner with Cruise Britain at the world’s biggest conference and exhibition for cruise operators – Cruise Shipping Miami – to promote the Port and the North East region for next year and beyond.
“We are delighted to be welcoming a record number of cruise ships to the Port of Tyne starting from April and going right through the season. It is a real coup to have some of the world’s leading cruise operators either starting their cruise itineraries here or making sure that they make North East England one of their stops on the journey,” said Port of Tyne Chief Executive Andrew Moffat.
“We are particularly pleased that Thomson Cruises – one of the first companies to realise the potential of the Port of Tyne back in 2005 - is returning this year with ten calls scheduled.”
Maurice Kennedy, Cruise Operations Manager Thomson Cruises, said: “In 2005 we recognised the Port of Tyne was ideal in terms of location, and travel connections to act as a turnaround port and this year we are starting ten fantastic cruises from the North East. This is great for the people of the local area as they can join a world class cruise on their doorstep, and we expect that we will have many passengers travelling from all over the UK to join the ship at Newcastle.”
Other operators whose fabulous ships will be seen entering the Tyne this year are Fred Olsen, with six planned cruise calls, Saga with five and Cruise & Maritime with three.
New customers for 2012 include MSC, with four calls booked for the MSC Lirica; Seaborn Soujourn; Discovery Cruises; Swan Hellenic’s Minerva; and Peter Deilmann, with Deutschland.
Visiting cruise passengers will be exploring attractions across North East England, including Alnwick Castle, Durham Cathedral, Hadrian’s Wall and NewcastleGateshead, as well as attractions closer to the Port, including Segedunum and Arbeia Roman sites, Tynemouth Priory and St Mary’s Island.
Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive at the destination management and marketing agency, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The growth in traffic through the Port of Tyne is great news for the region and the many tourism partners we work with.
“When cruise ships arrive on the River Tyne, passengers enjoy a wealth of experiences across North East England, and we know they are more likely to return as a result. The ongoing investment by Port of Tyne in the facilities and the visitor experience ensures that the terminal is a major benefit for the whole region’s economy. We are delighted to continue to work with the Port and cruise and ferry operators to maximise opportunities for routes into and out of the destination.