Princess visit gives Falmouth hope of making a packet from cruise calls

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The Cornish tourist trade – caught in the maelstrom of the economic downturn and the wettest summer in 100 years – has been boosted by a visit from the biggest cruise ship to call this year.
Local officials have taken advantage of the visit to press the case for investment in the port of Falmouth, which has seen a decline in visiting passenger numbers in recent years.
The 113,000-ton Caribbean Princess was in town at August Bank Holiday weekend and local officials believe at least 2,000 passengers came ashore by tender and made their way into Falmouth itself, with another 1,000 taking excursions further afield in the county.
Although cruise visitor numbers are expected to total 24,000 this year from 34 ship visits, and are up about a quarter on 2011, they have fallen over the last five years. Port operations director Mike Reynolds said that in 2007, Falmouth handled 60,000 cruise callers a year, but the number has dropped as ships have outgrown the port’s facilities.
Ambitious proposals including dredging a channel into what is claimed to be the third largest natural harbour in the world have been approved by Cornwall Council but are awaiting the completion of an initial trial.
The Cornish economy benefits by about £1.3 million a year from visiting cruise passengers and Reynolds believes that if larger ships can be accommodated the figure could rise to as much as £500,000 a day.
Falmouth has a team of volunteer ambassadors to greet visitors as they step ashore, and 30 of them were on duty for the Caribbean Princess visit.
Their secretary, Phil Boddy, said: ” “It was a really busy day for us all, but great fun and highly enjoyable. The majority of passengers were American with a smattering of Brits and Northern Europeans. Everyone was in good spirits and we had many compliments which are always welcome and furthermore the sun shone for a change this summer. It was a great day all round. Princess wrote and thanked us for all we had done and saying the call had gone well.”
Thelma Sorensen, Chairman of Cornwall Business Partnership, said: “The tremendous success of the visit of the Caribbean Princess to Falmouth demonstrates the economic importance of cruise ship calls to the port and to Cornwall as a whole.
“It is obvious that the town and port of Falmouth, together with the enthusiastic support of cruise ambassadors, is geared up to maximise the financial benefits generated by the arrival of such large numbers of passengers.
“However, these benefits cannot be fully maximised until the harbour has been dredged to accommodate larger ships. With the global increase of the cruise ship industry, Falmouth needs to be in the position to be able to welcome, and accommodate, even the largest. There are plenty of other ports in the UK and Europe that are competing to do so and, in the present economic climate, the county cannot afford to miss out on the business.
If Falmouth needs any further demonstration of the need for improved facilities, they need only look across the water to Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, which has lost huge amounts of income this year as bad weather has forced ships to call off their visits.
Most cancellations are made at the last minute, dependent on wind and tides. But Cunard has announced this week that visits by Queen Mary 2, scheduled for October 13 and November 17, have been cancelled after “a routine review” of navigation plans.
It is estimated that 21,000 passengers have been lost to the island this year – about a third of those expected.
Proposals for a secure berth in St Peter Port, costing between £25m and £80m, have been opposed by the local Chamber of Commerce.

By | 2012-09-04T11:08:51+00:00 4 September 2012|Cruise destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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