It’s set to be a record year for the Island’s cruise business with both cruise ship and passenger numbers up by 75% on last year.
A total of 28 cruise ships are scheduled to visit the Isle of Man’s shores this year (up from 16 in 2016) with 9,756 passengers aboard (an increase in passengers of 4,188 on last year).
The 50,000th cruise visitor to visit the Isle of Man since 2005 will be welcomed ashore in June, in what is already set to be a landmark year for the Island’s cruise business.
The cruise season started last Friday (April 21) with the arrival of Hebridean Princess on a ‘Springtime Surprise Cruise’. The season gathers pace this Saturday (April 29) when a Manx piper playing on Douglas quay will herald the arrival of two ships. Luxury cruise ship Le Soléal will berth alongside Victoria Pier while Norwegian operator Hurtigruten’s ship Midnatsol will anchor in Douglas Bay.
Rob Callister MHK, Member of the Department of Economic Development with responsibility for Tourism, said:
‘The record bookings and the arrival of the 50,000th cruise visitor to our shores since 2005 highlights that the Isle of Man is being increasingly recognised by both cruise lines and visitors for the outstanding natural beauty, unique culture and heritage on offer. This is something that we are keen to capitalise on with the Department’s tourism strategy, set out in the Destination Management Plan, identifying the cruise market as providing one of the best opportunities for growth in the industry.
‘Looking to the future, the Department is working with the Department of Infrastructure to review and assess the opportunity for a deep water berth for cruise ships.’
Six cruise ships will be making their first calls to the Isle of Man this year, including two operated by luxury cruise operator Tauck.
Gail Kelmer, Operations Manager of Tauck Small Ship Cruising, commented:
‘We are delighted to be calling in to the Isle of Man for the first time this year. We are berthing in Douglas as part of an eight-day Celtic Coastlines and 12-day Treasures of the British/ Irish Isles cruises.
‘We have a reputation for delivering enriching travel experiences that enhance people’s lives and feel confident that the addition of the Isle of Man as a port of call will help us to build on that.
The Isle of Man also continues to develop its relationship with Noble Caledonia. It is the arrival of its ship, Hebridean Sky, on 12th June, which will bring the 50,000th cruise passenger to the Island.
The Department has been working closely with businesses on the Isle of Man to improve the services and excursions on offer and working with cruise operators to provide a customised experience.
Mr Callister said:
‘There has been an increase in the number of Cruise Welcomers appointed for 2017, whose role it is to provide a warm welcome to visitors when they step ashore and at key sites around the Island, and there is also an increased focus on providing foreign language speakers for passengers.
‘To ensure passengers make the most of their time ashore, new niche and artisan excursions focusing on Manx food and culture have been developed. At the end of their visit, cruise passengers will be able to buy a special memento of their visit from new kiosks at the Sea Terminal stocked with Manx produce and crafts.’