It seems that there are towns all over the UK that are pushing to build on the cruise market. The latest to make noise about wanting a bigger cruise port is Milford Haven in Wales, in the south west of the country.
In 2012 six cruise ships docked in the town, with eight scheduled to arrive in 2013. Holyhead is the most popular port in Wales, which welcomed 14 ships to the Isle of Anglesey back in 2011. The industry department of the Welsh government, Cruise Wales, aims to increase passengers arriving in the country by 25% each year.
The cruise development officer for Milford Haven, Sue Blanchard-Williams, said “We have a small berth in the waterways of Milford Haven so any cruise vessels coming here over a certain size have to outcast – they anchor in the middle of the waterway and passengers ride a tender in.
“In the long-term we want to have a big berth and we’re trying to see ways of doing that. It draws in people to ships, the passengers spend, the cruises spend as they have to refuel and re-stock…At the moment we have a combination of both small and medium-sized cruise vessels. We can go up to about a 1,200 passenger vessel…But the really big vessels that Holyhead take accommodation 3,000 passengers.
“They wouldn’t be practical for Milford Haven without the bigger berth…Certainly I would like to see more cruise ships coming into Wales. But until we get better infrastructure we might just remain on a plateau. Cruise companies are looking for berthing facilities. The Welsh government should be helping us to do that.”
The Welsh government have responded in a slightly non-committal way, stating they want to increase cruise line visits to the country. There are a few destinations in Wales that cruise lines do visit, including the aforementioned Holyhead, Cardiff, Newport and Fishguard. However the ports are much lesser popular than those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in terms of the number of ships and passengers that dock each year.
What do you think? Comment if you think Wales deserves more investment in cruise ports to facilitate bigger ships and more visitors? What do you think would make the best excursions?
By Ian Lewis