The North East port played host to the MS Hamburg, a 15,000 ton, 420 passenger cruise ship, operated by German-based Plantours Kreuzfahrten. The vessel – the largest of its kind to enter the port in 15 years – docked for eight hours, with the 318 tourists on board heading off on organised tours to explore religious sites across the North East.
The 144m long vessel, which travelled to Sunderland from Rosyth in Scotland, made its final call at the North East port, before travelling back to Bremerhaven.
This is the third consecutive year that Port of Sunderland has been a cruise ship stop-off point, and a significant step forward for the port, which announced intentions to regularly welcome passenger vessels after first greeting the MS Gann in 2014.
Matthew Hunt, director at Port of Sunderland, said: “Port of Sunderland was delighted to welcome its first passenger vessel in 2014, and it is fantastic to see that our reputation is beginning to grow, with enquiries coming in from tour operators looking at alternative, easily-accessible and well-connected locations to dock.
“Sunderland is extremely well-placed for tourists to the UK. Not only is the city’s own tourism offer developing at pace, but we are at the heart of an incredibly beautiful part of the country, with cosmopolitan shopping districts and places that are steeped in history and heritage a stone’s throw from the port.”
The port has been working with the ship’s agent Inchscape Shipping Services for more than a year, and hopes that the MS Hamburg’s stop-off at Port of Sunderland will be one of many more in the future. The vessel departed at 8pm the same day.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and chair of the port board, said: “Sunderland is not only a great city in its own right, but a gateway to a region that has a huge amount to offer tourists from not only the UK, but right around the world.
“With Port of Sunderland less than five minutes from open sea, a flexibility and friendliness that comes with coming into a smaller port, and fantastic links to our own city centre, and other major towns and cities in the North East, are in a great position to attract cruise ships looking for an attractive port of call in the UK.
“Looking ahead, with significant infrastructure improvements over the next few years and major projects to enhance the offer we have in the city for tourists, Port of Sunderland will only see its position as a cruise-ship destination strengthen and we look forward to welcoming many more vessels like the Hamburg in the future.
For more information about Port of Sunderland, visit www.portofsunderland.org.uk.