This year passengers have an opportunity to take classes at the Angela Gray Cookery School at Llanerch Vineyard
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2017 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
In May, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo set sail from the port of Cardiff on a roundtrip to the Norwegian Fjords. It’s the first time the cruise line has offered its passengers cruises from the Welsh port, but it certainly won’t be the last.
“The trips have gone really well so far,” says head of Cruise Wales, Suzanne Thomas. “They have already re-booked for next year, which is fantastic news for us.”
Cruise & Maritime Voyages isn’t the only line putting Wales on the map for cruise passengers. This season, the country will host 89 cruise calls, up from 58 last year, and 2018 looks set to attract even more.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with how the season is progressing so far,” Thomas explains. “Cruise calls are up across the board. Fishguard (in the southwest of the country) is a port that we’re particularly pleased with, welcoming 31 vessels this year. We have found that the community there is really getting behind the cruise ships coming in – providing a warm welcome and plenty of activities and entertainment for guests to enjoy during their stay.”
Not to be outdone by the country’s northern region, which was ranked fourth in the Lonely Planet’s annual Best in Travel list earlier this year, the south of Wales has a number of new attractions for cruise passengers to try out.
This season, for example, passengers can attend classes at the Angela Gray Cookery School, which can be combined with a tour of the local Llanerch Vineyard. Passengers can choose bespoke cookery classes and demonstrations to suit all tastes – an ideal opportunity to brush up on their cooking skills, learn new recipes and taste the local cuisine.
In the north of the country, passenger numbers for Holyhead port are up – by 34% in fact – where passengers are undoubtedly tempted by a host of exciting attractions and activities including inland surf lagoon Surf Snowdonia, Zip World – home to Europe’s longest zip line – and the nearby giant trampoline park Bounce Below in the caverns beneath Blaenau Ffestiniog.
“Next year we’ve already got 30 large vessels booked into Holyhead,” says Thomas. “The region is certainly becoming more and more popular, and these adventure attractions are undoubtedly helping.”
In 2018, events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the country’s Year of the Sea campaign will draw in the crowds. “We’re so excited to be hosting the Volvo Ocean Race,” says Thomas. “Already, we have loads of activities set around that. There will be plenty going on within the race village itself too.”
Wales’ annual celebration of culture and language, National Eisteddfod, will also take to Cardiff Bay next year, offering an entirely new experience from the traditional festival, which is usually held in a field.
“We’re in the process of speaking to all onboard hotel directors about how we can get cruise passengers involved in the festivities,” says Thomas. “We’re really looking forward to showing off the best of what Wales has to offer, from our local produce and culture to our beautiful surroundings.”