Harwich: MSC Lirica kicks off port’s longest-ever cruise season

HARWICH International Port has welcomed the first cruise call of what promises to be a busy 2012 season with the arrival of the MSC Lirica.

Operated by MSC Cruises, the vessel arrived at Harwich on its first Northern European cruise of the year, marking a return to the port by MSC Cruises which last used the facility in 2008.

Carrying 2,500 passengers and crew, and with a gross tonnage of 59,058 tonnes, the MSC Lirica boasts nine passenger decks, four restaurants, two pools, a state-of-the-art theatre, a relaxation spa and a mini golf course.

The vessel is also due to make the final call of the port’s cruise season which this year comes to an end in October, the longest cruise season ever at Harwich International.

David Gledhill, chief executive of Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, which owns Harwich International, said: “Harwich is one of the country’s key gateways for cruise and ferry tourism, with excellent transport links to Cambridge and London, as well as convenient access to Constable Country and historic Harwich.

“We are rightly proud of the facilities offered at Harwich International Port, and have made significant investment in recent years. Indeed, it is testimony to the excellent facilities and service that we have here in Harwich that major cruise operators choose to use us, and return to us, year after year.”

Harwich International is expecting 35 cruise calls in 2012, a 30% increase on 2011. It has parking facilities on the port for passengers arriving by car, a new charging point for electric cars and, almost uniquely, a mainline train station adjacent to the cruise terminal.