UK cruise ports celebrate record year in 2023

Cruise ship calls and passenger numbers are up at many ports, according to Cruise Britain

UK cruise ports celebrate record year in 2023

Portland Port

Portland Port broke several of its own cruise records in 2023

By Laura Hyde |

Several UK ports have reported record cruise calls and passenger numbers in 2023, according to Cruise Britain. 

The Port of Aberdeen welcomed 43 cruise calls between May and October 2023. Over 50 cruise calls are already scheduled for 2024, with that number expected to increase. The port is also accepting bookings for 2026. 

“More than 250 cruise ships sail past Aberdeen every year, and we want to attract as much of that business to the port as we can,” said Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive. 

Falmouth Harbour had 44 cruise ship calls, up from 29 in 2022. Ambassador Cruise Line’s Ambition made four visits to Falmouth in 2023, incorporating passenger turnarounds for the first time. 

“The popularity of cruise is growing, and this year has proven that Falmouth Harbour can accommodate a full range of cruise ships,” said Miles Carden, Falmouth Harbour CEO. “We want these ships and their passengers to have the very best experience here.” 

Belfast Harbour saw a record-breaking 57 ships from 32 different cruise lines visit the port in 2023, including 14 inaugural calls, which is an eight per cent increase on the previous record set in 2019. Belfast Harbour also welcomed its two millionth cruise visitor in May 2023; the passenger arrived onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn. 

“After a couple of disrupted years due to the pandemic, it’s clear that cruise tourism in Belfast is now in very good health,” said Michael Robinson, port director. “Bookings for the 2024 cruise season are currently strong, with similar levels to this year’s record season, which is great news for the city and the industry.” 

Portland Port broke several of its cruise records in 2023, including welcoming calls in 10 of the 12 calendar months. In April 2023, MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa brought a record 5,000 passengers to the port in one day, and in September the port hosted its first double call from Princess Cruises’ 330-metre-long Regal Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line’s 326-metre Norwegian Getaway at its redeveloped £26 million ($31.4 million) deep-water berth

“The double-call broke a port record; the newly developed deep-water berth is testament to the unwavering belief port management had that the facility would attract international passenger ships vessels of up to 350m in length,” said Ian McQuade, Portland Port’s commercial general manager and chair of Cruise Britain. “Various records have been set this year with the cruise calls at Portland, including the annual number of passengers at 130,000 [the most in the port's 27-year history].” 

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