A small port on England’s southwest coast has big ambitions for 2024 and beyond, as the number of cruise ships committed to exploring the region continues to grow. The Port of Plymouth, in the county of Devon, will benefit from a hefty 40% rise in cruise ship arrivals in 2024.

Plymouth, also called Britain’s Ocean City, is situated in England’s only county that has two coastlines — the Bristol Channel to the north and the English Channel to the south.

The Port of Plymouth is poised for rapid expansion as a cruise destination, with more than 10,000 cruise guests anticipated to visit in 2024. The number represents a 40% jump in arrivals versus 2023.

Plymouth is set to welcome 14 ships when its cruise season gets under way in April and continues to October, providing a financial boon to the regional economy. Revenue from cruise guests and ship crew members who spend money on local tours and in retail shops and restaurants help local businesses thrive and fill the port’s coffers with fees from berthing, harbor pilot costs, and other expenses.

Ships confirmed to call at the port in 2024 include several luxury vessels, such as Seabourn’s 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn, Exploris’ 132-guest expedition ship Exploris I, Windstar Cruises’ 312-guest Star Legend, Ponant’s 184-guest Le Dumont D’urville, Silversea Cruises’ 691-guest Silver Dawn and 608-guest Silver Spirit, and Oceania’s 684-guest Sirena, among others.

Ambassador Cruise Line’s 1,248-guest Ambition and  1,400-guest Ambience both will make their inaugural calls at the port in 2024. The cruise line is the UK’s newest cruise brand, having debuted in 2022.

The Port of Plymouth is well known for providing a warm welcome to guests, as Cruise Plymouth Ambassador volunteers greet passengers as they come ashore, along with the Town Crier, and the Plymouth Maritime Corps of Drums performs, all making for a rousing and festive arrival.

Holland America Ship in Plymouth (Photo Credit: One Plymouth)

Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City has been working hard to cement our reputation as a must-see port of call and a great many people are busy behind the scenes to make these cruise visits a huge success,said Amanda Lumley, chief executive of Destination Plymouth.

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Lumley pointed to a recent two-day fam visit by cruise industry executives and cruise media, who had opportunities to explore the area and its top attractions, which include the National Marine Aquarium, Mount Edgcumbe House and Gardens, Mayflower Museum, Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, the Seaton’s Tower lighthouse, and the Barbican, the historic heart of Plymouth famous for its art galleries, restaurants, and shops.

According to Glen Gardner, the cruise/new business development manager at Destination Plymouth, the increase in cruise business is enhancing the city’s reputation on an international level.

Moreover, the port’s facilities at Millbay Dock are in the process of a major renovation to upgrade berthing and passenger facilities, all scheduled to be completed in 2025. The investment project is an initiative of Associated British Ports, which owns the port of Plymouth.

Plymouth, UK (Photo Credit: bernd.brueggemann)

The port currently can accommodate ships up to 984 feet long; Seabourn Sojourn, for example, is about 656 feet long, while mega-ships are typically 1,000-plus feet in length.

In an effort to focus on growing its cruise business, several public and private agencies joined forces to create the Cruise Plymouth Partnership in 2021. The partnership’s goal is to attract more ships. In addition to its growing cruise industry, the Port of Plymouth is a major ferry hub, providing services between the UK, France, and Spain.

The Port of Plymouth joins other UK ports, preparing for a busy 2024. Portsmouth, for instance, a larger south coast port roughly 170 miles east of Plymouth, expects to break its cruise arrivals record in 2024 by welcoming about 155,000 cruise passengers.

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