In a season of firsts the cruise ship, the AIDAstella, made her inaugural call to Portland Port on Friday the 17th of May. On board the AIDAstella was a contingent of over 2000 German passengers, all of which were keen to disembark and explore, whether it was via mini bus to Portland Castle, shuttle busses to Weymouth town or excursion coaches all over Dorset and beyond, some as far as Bath.
The AIDA Stella herself is new to the cruise industry; she only entered service 2 months ago. She stands at 14 decks high and is of Nordic design. To accommodate for the German passengers on board Portland Port provided 4 German translators, providing local tourist information, all of which enjoyed their time meeting and greeting the passengers as they disembarked. Bettina Collins, one of the translators said; “Its an enjoyable experience being able to welcome all these passengers to Weymouth and Portland, I think it is important to make them feel at home and ensure that they have a good understanding of all the fantastic local things on offer here”.
Once the large contingent of cruise passengers reached Weymouth it took very little time before they started to explore all the shops in and around the town centre. Local businesses around Weymouth and Portland would have welcomed the additional takings achieved by the travelling cruise passengers and can expect more of the same throughout the rest of the summer season, as there are more cruise calls at Portland Port this year than ever before. More recently, the Discovery made her second call to Portland Port this season to round off a very successful month.
Whilst observing operations from the quayside Ian McQuade, commercial manager, said; "Portland Port has been delighted with the start to the new cruise season and the arrival of the AIDAstella is a very important first for us. 2013 will now see 19 calls and over 20,000 passengers visit the port" before joking "though it seems with some reports the numbers are even higher. That is something we are working on for the future".
This is not the last that Portland Port will see of the AIDA Stella this summer as she will return another three times before cruise season is finished, with even more calls planned for 2014 and 2015 respectively. This will come as welcome news to local businesses from both Weymouth and Portland who will enjoy the additional numbers that Portland Port and the AIDA Stella bring to the town.