IT looks like plain sailing for the Port of Tyne after a major cruise ship company decided to base its flagship vessel on Tyneside.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is to base its 1,350-capacity flagship Balmoral on the river from next year.
The firm has more than 100 years of heritage in running passenger services from the Port of Tyne, which has its headquarters in Tyne Dock, South Shields.
It has been operating regular cruise calls from the river since 2006 - seeing bookings from the Port of Tyne soar.
Mike Rodwell, managing director at Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We are very excited to be basing Balmoral on The Tyne.
“It means we are almost doubling our capacity and offering our loyal guests in the North East an even greater number of cruise departures than ever before.
The Port of Tyne is also ideally placed for our ever-popular Norway, Scandinavian and Baltic itineraries, and we can save up to three days’ cruising time sailing from the Tyne to Norway than from Southern ports.Mike Rodwell, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
“The Port of Tyne is also ideally placed for our ever-popular Norway, Scandinavian and Baltic itineraries.
“We can save up to three days’ cruising time sailing from the Tyne to Norway than from southern ports.”
Balmoral will sail 11 times from its new home from May 21, 2016.
Andrew Moffat, chief executive officer at Port of Tyne, said: “Our cruise operations continue to grow, and it is great news that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines are expanding their itineraries and basing their flagship at the port from next year.
“Fred Olsen is one of many leading cruise lines operating from the port.
“This year we have 27 cruise calls planned during the year, and 2016 promises to be a record year.”
The 880-capacity Boudicca today heralded the start of Fred Olsen’s cruise season on the river with its first cruise ship call - part of an 11-night Floral Britannia itinerary.
The floral-themed sailing started in Dover on April 28, and Boudicca will return to the Tyne on July 18.
The Port of Tyne’s International Passenger Terminal in North Shields handles around 620,000 passengers each year.
Passenger shipping generates around £60m for the North-East economy each year, supporting more than 2,000 tourism-related jobs.