Ipswich/Harwich: Fred Olsen boost for international cruise port

HARWICH International Port’s growing cruise business has received another major boost, with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines planning to operate four cruises out of the Essex port in 2013.

Fred. Olsen vessels have made “transit” calls at Harwich in mid-cruise before, but the company’s 804-guest Black Watch is now to make four “turnaround” visits – using the port as a start and finish point for cruises – in May and June 2013.

Matt Grimes, director of planning for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, which is based in Ipswich, said: “Harwich International Port has long been on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ radar as a turnaround port following a series of successful transit calls in recent years.

“Its direct rail connections from London – whereby guests alight right next to the cruise terminal – make this an extremely easy port to access.

“The addition of this new regional departure port means that Fred. Olsen is able to operate a vessel within only 100 miles of over 90% of the UK population, which will enhance further our reputation as the UK’s local cruise line with a global choice of itineraries,” added Mr Grimes.

The Black Watch will be offering three cruises from Harwich in May 2013, to the Baltic, Norway and Lapland, through the Gulf of Bothnia. plus a mini-cruise the following month, with the cruises ranging in length from three to 14 nights.

Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs at Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, which owns Harwich International Port, said: “We are delighted that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has decided to commence turnaround calls at Harwich International Port after such successful visits by Black Watch in 2010, and Balmoral in 2011.

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“Harwich International Port has developed over a number of years into one of the UK’s leading cruise ports, and we look forward to working with Fred. Olsen to offer its guests the highest quality facilities and customer service,” he added.