Maritime tourism drives British ports and cities. Southampton city received over £1 billion

By Marek Grzybowski

CruiseBritain members ended 2023 with success and high revenues for ports and cities. The Port of Dover was named ‘Best UK Departure Port’ and the Port of Belfast ended the year with the ‘Best UK & Ireland Port of Call’ title. Over 460 cruise ship calls and 2.6 million passengers visiting Southampton contributed over £1 billion to the local and regional economy.
In Southampton, there are over 15,000 people in the maritime tourism sector. jobs offered by local entrepreneurs, both those operating in ports and serving tourists in the city and  Hampshire.
Stephen Manion, executive director of Go! Southampton, said: Cruise passengers are an extremely important part of the Southampton and Hampshire tourism economy – quotes the director of CruiseBritain.
Maritime tourists visit Hampshire for its charming scenery. It is a land located in the south of England, situated on the English Channel and the Solent Strait. According to the local tourism organization, they spend more than average.


Go! Southampton
“We look forward to working with the Port of Southampton to increase not only visitor numbers, but also their ability to access the city and all its attractions,” says Stephen Manion.
The operator of the Port of Southampton is Associated British Ports (ABP). Southampton Airport is 5 miles from the port. It is one of the leading cruise ports in Europe. It is distinguished by five cruise terminals. The new Cruise Terminal (Berth 102) was built as a joint venture between MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. The terminal also serves luxury cruise lines Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
The Port of Southampton is home to the UK’s first high-capacity land-based power plant used to power ships. It allows cruise ships to provide electricity from the quayside. This allows combustion engines to be turned off in the port. This, in turn, enables the port to achieve zero emissions, which is one aspect of ABP’s commitment to sustainable development.
Another activity of ABP is encouraging passengers to use public transport. – We are working with the City Council and port partners to ensure that air quality levels continue to be below nationally set thresholds, and thanks to port air quality monitors we can accurately measure this – emphasizes ABP.
Alastair Welch, ABP regional director for Southampton, said: “We are proud of the role we play in supporting the local, regional and national economy. While this is a record year for cruises, we continue to invest in this and other port-related sectors to ensure the long-term success of our port city.

Dover – the White Cliffs region
Commenting on Dover’s win in the ‘Best UK Departure Port’ category, Cruise Critic UK & AU said: ‘as well as its stunning location and welcoming White Cliffs, Dover serves an increasing number of cruise lines, including Seabourn, Fred. Olsen, Hurtigruten, Costa and Carnival Pride. We also positively assess investments in infrastructure and sustainable development, including the construction of a completely new marina and cooperation with local and international partners in order to create a port that is more friendly, sustainable and equipped with modern technologies,” reported “Cruise Critic UK & AU”.
Doug Bannister, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Dover, said upon receiving the award: “This is the perfect end to a great year for Dover Cruise and a testament to the world-class customer service provided by our team. Leading cruise lines have chosen the iconic backdrop of the White Cliffs and Dover Castle for launch visits and special celebrations throughout the year, states Bannister. – My thanks go to our team for providing hundreds of thousands of cruise guests with lifelong memories in 2023, and to our cruise lines for choosing Dover as their number one destination in the UK. See you in 2024! – said Doug Bannister, quoted by CruiseBritain.
“It has been a phenomenal year for the cruise industry,” said Adam Coulter, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic UK & AU. He noted that not only had record sales been achieved, but also that “travellers come to the seaside for a high-quality holiday. And for travelers based in the UK, the introduction of new ships has helped to further drive interest in cruises.”

Belfast – “Best UK & Ireland Port of Call”
The Port of Belfast has been named ‘Best UK & Ireland Port of Call’ in the 15th edition of the Cruise Critic UK Editors’ Picks Awards.
The Port of Belfast Authority earned this award by serving 159 calls from 32 cruise operators in 2023, an 8% increase on the record set in 2019.
Cruise Critic, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, is the world’s leading cruise review site and online cruise community. Each year it announces the winners of the Editors’ Picks Awards, selected by an international panel of cruise experts.
After receiving the Cruise Critic award, Michael Robinson, director of Belfast Harbour, said: “This award recognizes the fantastic work that everyone in the cruise industry has done to create a product that will ensure the satisfaction of visitors to Northern Ireland.
Robinson highlighted that there has been significant investment in cruise ship facilities in Belfast.
– We receive positive opinions from passengers, crew and cruise line management, both about the high level of services provided and the quality of the tourist offer – noted Robinson. – As part of Cruise Belfast, our partnership with Visit Belfast, a lot of work has been done to promote the region and attract visitors here. Working with tour operators, the hospitality sector and industry organizations, we have helped create an attractive offer that gives cruise lines the confidence to return to the region and increase the number of connections they make each year, emphasized Robinson.
Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast, said: “Belfast is a fascinating, unique destination, rich in history, culture, heritage and attractions, boasting great hospitality, a rich shopping offer and a wealth of world-class attractions. I am delighted that its success has been officially recognized this year by Cruise Critic as the best port of call in the UK and British Isles.

In 2024, from Dover to Norway, Iceland, Portugal and the Azores
British ports predict that 2024 will be even better than 2023. 90 ships will visit Portsmouth this year, which will make 2024 a record year in terms of cruise ship moorings. This is the result of ten new calls. About 155,000 people will arrive on ships. passengers. Many of them will start their journey in the new terminal.
In 2024, Dover residents will witness six inaugural calls. There will even be days with three ships mooring at the passenger terminal at the same time – emphasizes the Port of Dover management. There is also a new marina on the newly developed Dover waterfront. The Marina Curve and Clocktower Square recreational areas adjacent to the terminal are now open for use.
– There is no doubt that 2024 will be an unforgettable year for us. We look forward to the return of all our cruise services and look forward to welcoming those operators who are visiting us for the first time,” said Peter Wright, Cruise Director at the Port of Dover.
The increased activity of cruise owners is evidenced by Clare Ward’s statement. Director of Products and Customer Service at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We are delighted to be back in Dover again with five new cruises launching this summer to attractive ports including Norway, Iceland, Portugal and the Azores.
20 tour operators have contracted entries. From Dover, there are cruises to Norwegian fjords, Baltic Sea ports, and ports of the British Isles. It is also the home port for the world’s leading cruise lines.
It should be added that you can travel from Dover to London by high-speed rail. After an hour, passengers get off at Victoria station, in the center of the British capital, a dozen or so minutes’ walk to Buckingham Palace.

Photos: Cruise port authorities: Dover, Southampton, Belfast