Bosses at the Port of Tyne have been surprised by the demand for the facility’s services to cruise operators in advance of UK passenger sailings between English ports being permitted.
So far, seven operators including Fred Olsen and Saga have confirmed they will be sailing into and from the Port of Tyne as they launch new UK cruise staycations for summer 2021 and beyond.
Kate O'Hara, commercial director at Port of Tyne, said, "Cruise operators using the port are an intrinsic part of our service offering and we are delighted to see the imminent return of sailings after a very difficult year.
"We are well versed in covid-safe working, the port has been open continuously since the outset of the pandemic and we go to great lengths to ensure the safety of everyone on site who uses our facilities.
"Now this means doing everything possible to help cruise operators restore public confidence and get people back out enjoying the amazing holiday experiences they offer."
Over the last 20 years, the Port of Tyne has welcomed more than 700,000 cruise passengers on average per year, from 60 different cruise lines on 450 cruise calls, to its multi-million pound passenger terminal and extended dedicated cruise quay.
Ms O’Hara said, based on current bookings and interest levels from cruise operators, summer 2021 looks set to become a busier season than anticipated.
Fred Olsen Cruise Line has announced 21 new sailings from the Port of Tyne from summer 2022, as part of a new 126 cruise programme which takes in 82 countries and the Port will also play host to Saga's Spirit of Adventure as she embarks on her maiden voyage.
Ms O’Hara said other interesting UK ‘staycation’ holiday opportunities using the Port of Tyne very shortly include a luxury tall-ship experience with Tradewind Voyages, who operate Golden Horizon, the world's largest square-rigged sailing vessel.
The high levels of interest shown from so many cruise operators in either calling at the Port of Tyne or basing their sailings from the port, is a testament to the many stringent health and safety protocols already in place to promote health and safety for both passengers and operators.
Ms O'Hara, who is a member of the Cruise Britain Steering Group and on the council of management for Cruise Europe, added: "On a practical level, this has involved the cruise industry and stakeholders including the Port of Tyne working together with the DfT, CLIA, the UK Chamber of Shipping and cruise operators and cross industry partners, to produce a new framework to ensure the safe restart of cruise."
She said Port of Tyne is implementing health and safety measures considering guidance from Government, health authorities and medical experts.
This includes Covid-19 testing, health screenings, face coverings, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning.
The Port of Tyne is one of the UK's most popular cruise and ferry ports. With two purpose built, lock-free cruise berths, the port's operational teams expertly handle both turnaround, overnight visits and transit calls at the award-winning International Passenger Terminal.
The river depth is maintained up to 10m, and vessels up to 300m can be accommodated.