Wales will welcome the highest number of cruise ship calls to date this year, with 91 ships expected to call at Welsh ports.
The cruise calls will include more than 80,000 passengers and 39,000 crew, which equates to a potential passenger day spend income of £8.3 million for the Welsh economy.
The first calls of the 2023 season will be on 6th April, when the Hurtigruten Spitzbergen sails into Fishguard, while the Viking Venus sails into Holyhead.
For the first time this year, Holyhead will welcome the prestigious MS Queen Victoria in June – which is the 3,000-passenger ship’s first call at the port since the new ownership by Stenaline of the deep water berth in Holyhead.
Cruise is big business in Wales, and the Welsh Government/Cruise Wales has been working with partners to develop and promote new onshore tour itineraries for passengers, showcasing more of Wales’ attractions to cruise lines and ground handlers. The Coal, Coin and Cheers tour put together by The Rhondda Heritage park, The Royal Mint and Hensol Castle in South Wales is an example of businesses working together to develop an exciting and authentic day tour.
Welsh Government investment in infrastructure has also helped to attract more cruise lines to call in Wales. This includes the award of £147,000 through the Tourism Investment Support Scheme in 2017 for the construction of a dedicated cruise passenger tendering pontoon and associated landing facilities at Fishguard Harbour, which has attracted larger cruise ships into the port.
To build on the success of 2023, Cruise Wales will attend the Seatrade Global conference and exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the end of March. The event will provide opportunities to meet key decision-makers from cruise lines across the world and encourage further growth to our Wales cruise product.
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, who has responsibility for tourism within the Welsh Government said:
“It’s excellent news that we’re seeing such significant growth in the number of cruise calls to Wales this year.
“Wales is such a stunning place to visit, with a huge choice of experiences on offer that suit a variety of tastes and interests. We’ve been working closely with businesses in the tourism sector to ensure visitors see the very best we have to offer.
“Of course, the past few years have been challenging, but to see the highest number of calls to date is fantastic bounce-back and a testimony to the hard work of the Cruise Wales partnership. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming visitors from across the world to Wales in the year ahead.”
Ian Davies Head of UK Port Authorities at Stena Line, said:
“It’s so positive to see a return and growth of cruise ships and guests to the Ports at Holyhead and Fishguard, bring growing numbers of visitors to see North and West Wales . We believe that through the investments in port facilities, working with Welsh Government and the local communities collaboratively , this growth will continue , spreading the economic benefit to the wider region.”