Page last updated at 05:50 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 06:50 UK

Ship cruises in for record visit

Maasdam
At 55,451 tonnes, the Maasdam is the largest cruise ship to dock at Milford

The Pembrokeshire port of Milford Haven is welcoming more cruise ship passengers in one day than have previously docked there in any year.

The Maasdam is the first transatlantic liner to visit and, with nearly 2,000 holidaymakers, by far the largest.

It will be worth up to 170,000 to the local economy, according to Milford Haven Port Authority.

It is aiming to double the number of cruise ships it handles within the next three years.

The port authority started promoting Pembrokeshire as a cruise destination five years ago.

Passenger numbers have steadily increased since but with the arrival of the Maasdam, part of the Holland America line, numbers will grow dramatically.

It is a drive tourism leaders in Pembrokeshire are hoping will help add to the 300m the industry is estimated to be worth to the county at present.

MILFORD HAVEN AND CRUISES
The average spend in Wales is 85 per passenger and 55 per crew member
Milford Haven welcomed seven ships during 2006-07 with a total of 3,673 passengers
This year will see seven cruise ships dock and six bookings have been taken for 2009
Milford Haven is the sixth largest port in the UK and this year is the port authority's golden jubilee
Source: Milford Haven Port Authority

Rachel Hicks, chief executive of Pembrokeshire Tourism, said the ship's visit was exciting for the area.

"We know they will get a very warm Welsh welcome and I hope it shows other cruise companies what a wonderful, diverse offering, we have so they are encouraged to include Pembrokeshire in their itineraries.

"The port authority has achieved a magnificent feat building the cruise trade here and with even more visits due next year we could see the boom of a new form of tourism."

She said she hoped efforts would be made to encourage ships to stay longer and hoped passengers would return "under their own steam" when they saw what the area had to offer.

Milford has joined forces with the ports of Cardiff, Swansea, Holyhead and Fishguard to form Cruise Wales, aimed at attracting more ships to visit.

'Excursions'

Recently it also became the first port in the UK to stage seminars for businesses to raise the standard of the shore-side welcome and to show companies how they could benefit from the trade.

Many passengers on the Maasdam have pre-booked a variety of excursions including coach trips to St Davids, the National Botanic Gardens, Pembroke, Carew Castle and Caldey Island near Tenby.

A port authority spokeswoman said: "Other independent passengers, who have not booked excursions, will be offered the opportunity to look around Milford Haven town and marina, with free shuttle buses available for them.

"We get a great response to this service, with passengers wandering around the town, the museum and the shops on the marina."


SEE ALSO
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