Cruise Europe new Members: Portsmouth, Saudarkrokur and Iceland Travel
Portsmouth International Port’s 2020 vision is an adventurous, green cruise expansion.
With its harbour on the UK’s south coast, Portsmouth International Port provides a historic arrival and departure for passengers.
Known as the “Great Waterfront City”, Portsmouth has been building a discerning reputation as a turnaround or transit port, providing world-class attractions and welcoming back established cruise companies.
It is now setting its sights on becoming a major player in the cruise industry, with developments for the expansion of facilities underway.
Some £19 million (€22.6 million) is being invested in transforming the terminal building in order to cater for an increase in passengers and also in extending the existing cruise berth to handle ships up to 255m in length.
“This significant investment, driven by customers’ needs, will contribute towards cementing Portsmouth’s position as the UK’s leading marine and maritime city,” comments Rachel McMinn, marketing and communications manager, Portsmouth International Port.
This year welcomes a record number of visits, including a maiden call for Hurtigruten’s hybrid-electric ship, Fridtjof Nansen.
Sustainability is central to the port’s transformation, with an aim to become one of the UK’s first zero-emission ports. “We already boast the country’s most environmentally-advanced port terminals, with the marine location lending a hand to provide green energy. Seawater helps to flush the toilets, wind-captures cool and heat the building and there is also LED lighting throughout,” explains McMinn.
The next steps involve becoming shorepower ready, installing wind turbines across the site to generate energy, and using the most advanced air quality monitoring technology to regularly assess performance.
As the UK’s only island city, home to great sailing, the Royal Navy and with a rich maritime heritage, Portsmouth has always had a love affair with the sea. Attractions include the Historic Dockyard, HMS Victory and the new-look Mary Rose Tudor experience. Alongside Henry VIII’s flagship vessel, the city is also home to his seafront bolt-hole, Southsea Castle.
The city is 96km from London. Heathrow and Gatwick are about 80 minutes and Southampton airport is 23 minutes (37km) by car from the port.
Portsmouth’s connectivity also stretches to the sea, being 60 minutes from the main English Channel shipping route and ideally placed for cruises heading south and east.
Well placed on Iceland’s north coast and in the shelter of the Skagafjordur fjord, Saudarkrokur currently offers one berthing space alongside for cruise vessels up to 200m in length, along with two additional anchorages: 0.5nm and 0.8nm away respectively.
An additional floating tender pier is planned for March 2020 in readiness for the Icelandic port’s first operational cruise season.
The port is equipped with WiFi and washroom facilities and is 15 minutes walking distance from the Old Town with its museums and quaint streets. Worth a mention is the Verslun Haraldur Juliussonar – a time-traveller style general store that has been in business since 1919 and where the gas is still pumped by hand.
Shuttle services to the more modern side of the town with its bakery, swimming pool, nine-hole golf course and ATM/bank are available upon request. On foot it is about 30 minutes each way.
There are several historical places of interest in the vicinity, landmarks in the form of ancient Viking battle fields, turf-roofed churches and farmhouses, geological phenomena, geothermal swimming pools, waterfalls, museums, river rafting, fly fishing and even virtual reality Viking battle re-enactments.
Hence local tour operators can create an array of shore excursions for both classic and expedition focused cruise lines: port to port and overland tours included.
Skagafjordur is well known for having the finest horses and horse farms in Iceland.
Alongside offering horseback riding tours, demonstrations and horse shows, the annual horse round-up takes place in late September – an unforgettable experience and insight into local life. The date lends well to a late summer stop off on a repositioning cruise and maybe the Northern Lights will also make an appearance.
The neighbouring tiny port of Hofsos (easily accessible by Zodiac) with its cluster of 18th century black-tarred wooden houses also lies under the jurisdiction of the Port of Saudarkrokur and the town’s swimming pool is considered one of the best in Iceland. It is built into the hillside, infinity styled, filled with natural hot water and bestowed with glorious views of the fjord and nearby Drangey Island, which is home to thousands of puffins every summer.
“We are very pleased to see that our port is making waves and getting noticed. It’s been a few years coming but finally the word is out, and we will welcome our first calls this year.
At the time of writing summer 2020 will see Saudarkrokur welcoming maiden calls from Scenic Eclipse and Seabourn Quest. 2021 already has seven bookings confirmed – including two calls from Azamara, a return call from Scenic Eclipse and a maiden call from Mystic Cruises’ World Explorer,” comments Saudarkrokur’s harbour master, Dagur Baldvinsson.
He adds: “We are very excited about being part of the Cruise Europe community. We have heard such good things about the association and are positive that this will provide our port with the support and platform it needs to continue in our mission of bringing more ships to our ports and passengers to our shores.”
Iceland Travel (Associate member)
Iceland Travel’s local experts craft once in a lifetime travel experiences and take guests on extraordinary Icelandic journeys.
“We take pride in our diverse product portfolio, high-level services, and deep connections to our community of businesses and suppliers here in Iceland. Our longstanding history is built on the extensive experience of our team and our commitment to preserving Iceland’s fragile natural environment,” explains Emma Kjartansdottir, manager shore excursions & cruise services Iceland Travel.
The company offers a full-range of cruise services including turnaround operations, expedition services, pre- and post-tours, and overland experiences. It operates in all Icelandic ports which, in 2019, included 23 ports and 412 calls.
Expedition cruising has been a recent noticeable trend: “Through years of experience Iceland Travel cruise staff have become experts in expedition cruising offering assistance with itinerary planning, excursions and community engagement to name a few,” she says.
Turnarounds in Reykjavik is also a recent trend. Next summer Iceland Travel is scheduled to operate the largest turnaround for Iceland next summer for Pullmantur’s Monarch with 2,700 passengers. Seabourn, Viking Cruises and the smaller expedition ships also have multiple turnarounds in Reykjavik every year. Pre- and post-tours have become increasingly popular.