Cruise ships lined up to visit Northumberland port for the first time
A Northumberland town could become Britain’s answer to the Croatian port of Dubrovnik.
That is the view of Berwick town councillor Clare Raybould after an announcement that cruise ships are set to visit for the first time this summer.
She said: “Living just down the road from the dock, I know just how big this is for our town. There is huge potential to increase the tourist industry, bringing jobs and investment to the whole area.
“Berwick truly can become a British Dubrovnik. There is no finer town in the UK for that view of the old town and walls coming up the estuary.”
The arrival of cruise ships has been a long-held ambition for Berwick Harbour Commission.
Work has been carried out at the port to pave the way, including replacement of a damaged wooden jetty and creation of a landing pontoon to receive passengers from visiting cruise ships moored in the bay.
The SV Golden Horizon, the world’s largest square-rigged sailing vessel, will visit Berwick on July 5. This is followed by the MS Island Sky on July 21 and August 4 and then the MS Serenissima on August 21.
However, an air of doubt also hangs over the programme due to Covid-19.
“These are very exciting times for us,” said port manager Paul Ruddick. “Obviously it’s still up in the air a bit at the moment but we’re hopeful that these three ships will be coming.
"That’s certainly what we’re planning for and we’re now at the stage of looking at how the town can get involved in making sure the passengers are given a warm welcome and have plenty of things to do.
"It’s very important we make a good first impression so we’re on the radar for cruise ship companies. We really hope it will be a success and help to promote the town and the wider area.”
The cruise ships will typically arrive early in the morning and leave late at night, spending the day moored offshore, with passengers brought into Tweed Dock by tender.
Some will choose to spend the day in the town but there are also likely to be excursions to nearby attractions such as Holy Island and The Alnwick Garden.
"I’m sure the shops and cafes of Berwick will benefit and I’m sure many passengers will enjoy a walk around the walls and perhaps a river trip to see the seals and dolphins but it’s inevitable there will be some who want a trip further afield to take in attractions in north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders and that’s fine too.”
Work at the port was carried out thanks to a £2million grant from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This is fantastic news for Berwick, the port and the whole of north Northumberland.
"This is a huge vote of confidence in our town that these operators want to come and disembark passengers here.
"Berwick has so much to offer to the world and these visitors will not be disappointed.”