Union Jack

Record cruise ship visit christens new berth at Portland Port

MSC Virtuosa

29 April 2023

Portland Port welcomed a record 5,000 passengers in the first cruise call at its
newly developed deep-water berth.

MSC Virtuosa has brought the greatest number of guests of any single vessel visiting
the port so far.

She was the first cruise ship to use the port’s new berth, which is part of a £26m
redevelopment project to boost capacity and drive growth.

Passengers took complimentary buses into Weymouth and the local area during the
12-hour stop over by the MSC Virtuosa.

Ian McQuade, Portland Port’s commercial general manager, said: “The arrival of the MSC
Virtuosa marks a major milestone for the port.

“She has brought the greatest number of passengers of any single cruise ship by some
margin, considerably more than our previous record of 3,500. Guests from the ship have used our fleet of over 12 complimentary buses to explore the local area and its attractions.They are among a record 130,000 guests who will be visiting Portland on cruise ships this

He added: “It is exciting to see our new berth in operation for the first time as part of the
largest ever investment in the port and its infrastructure.

“Increasing our capacity and facilities is key to the development of the port, its continued
growth and our ability to build upon our contribution to the local economy, which stands at
about £10m from cruise calls alone.”

Redevelopment of deep-water quays at the port will enhance its cruise and cargo handling
operations as well as its service provision to vessels including those from the Royal Fleet
Auxiliary. It will enable the port to meet rising demand and keep ahead of the trend for increasing sizes
of cruise ships, including liners of up to 350m in length.

As well as 5,000 passengers, the MSC Virtuosa has 1,500 crew aboard. She called into the
island on a four-day ‘Portland and Cherbourg Getaway’ from Southampton. MSC Virtuosa was the fourth cruise call of the year at Portland, and is the first of 18 calls before the end of May.She last visited Portland in 2021 when she was the first cruise ship to call after the onset of the Covid pandemic although with fewer passengers. She is due to return later this year.

She followed calls by the Holland America Lines’ MS Zuiderdam and Hurtigruten’s MS Otto
Sverdrup, which both made their inaugural visits to the port when they stopped on
consecutive days earlier in April.

Portland Port is based in South Dorset and has operated on a commercial basis since 1996.
It has a number of commercial tenants and provides maritime and marine related services.