Harwich International Port is celebrating the launch of the 2008 tourist season, at a reception to be held in the ferry terminal Departure Lounge this evening [Thursday 6th March 2008]. Nicholas Crane of the BBC’s ‘Coast’ series will be speaking at the event, and Lord Iveagh, a Board Director of the East of England Development Agency, will be officially opening the Port’s new £2-million passenger walkway. Bill Gibbons, Director of the Passenger Shipping Association, will also be speaking at the launch.
The new high-level passenger walkway is capable of taking passengers directly from the Departure Lounge to Deck 7 of Stena Line’s newly-extended vessels, Stena Britannica and Stena Hollandica, which are the world’s largest RoPax vessels. The new walkway has been manufactured by TEAM in Barcelona, Spain, and has been completed in readiness for the busy summer period.
Other guests at the launch event will include members of County, District and Town Councils, Senior Executives from Stena Line, and representatives from the region’s tourist organisations.
The reception will celebrate what is expected to be one of the busiest tourist seasons ever at the Essex port. The long-established DFDS Seaways service to Esbjerg saw passenger volumes increase steadily in 2007, and some 90,000 passengers are expected to travel on the route in 2008.
A record 70 cruise calls are expected this year, with approximately 135,000 passengers set to call. The Port is also welcoming a record six transit calls that are booked for the season, which will enable visitors to see the tourist attractions of Harwich and nearby ‘Constable Country’, as well as further afield in Cambridge and London.
Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, which owns Harwich International Port, commented:
“Harwich International Port is one of the UK’s major gateways for cruise and ferry tourism, and we are optimistic that the 2008 season will be amongst our best ever. The cruise market continues to grow at an astonishing pace and Harwich is perfectly placed to offer homeport facilities for Baltic and Norwegian Fjord-bound cruises.”
The Stena Hollandica and Stena Britannica returned to the Harwich – Hoek of Holland route in Spring last year, having undergone a record-breaking £70-million lengthening programme. The Stena Hollandica received a new mid-body section of 52 metres, whilst the Stena Britannica was lengthened by 28 metres.
In order to accommodate Stena’s new fleet of extended ships, Harwich International Port has modified and extended an existing berth at the Port.