It has been a bumper year for cruise ships visiting in the island.

In 2018, 24 cruise ships carrying 8,391 passengers visited the island, along with 6,026 crew.

In 2017, there were 23 cruise shop visits and 3,745 took advantage of a shore excursion

That means there was a 20% increase from 2017 in cruise passengers participating in an organised shore excursion, with a total of 4,493 visitors enjoying the guided tours, heritage sites, vintage transport, bespoke and artisan activities, along with local produce being sent onboard, as well as local entertainment.

Rob Callister MHK, the politician responsible for tourism, said: ’I would like to thank the Cruise Isle of Man team, the “cruise welcomers”, volunteers and the network of local businesses who have worked extremely hard this year to ensure that the Isle of Man’s cruise tourism enjoyed another successful year and for their help in enhancing the island’s reputation as a high quality destination for cruise ships.

’We already have 38 vessels booked in for 2019, with the first cruise ship on April 11 and the final call on October 3, so we are also starting to extend the length of our cruise season.

’We are expecting 12,189 passengers and 7235 crew in total in 2019, so a significant increase on this year’s total which demonstrates the growing popularity and profile of the Isle of Man within the global cruise industry.

’In addition, we already have 13 cruise ships booked for 2020.’

The Cruise Isle of Man team developed several new excursions for 2018, although the year’s most popular attraction remained the steam railway and the most visited heritage site was Castle Rushen.

The growth in the number of cruise visitors and accompanying crew has provided many local businesses, such as specialist retailers and tour guides, with opportunities to sell their products and services to a new market and significant volumes of locally-produced food and drink were shipped out to visiting vessels.

In addition, a range of entertainment has been provided by local performers throughout the year for cruise visitors, both on-board and at the Sea Terminal.

One criticism of the cruising industry is that passengers tend to eat on board, so minimising the amount of money they spend in the local economy.

Another is that cruise ships cause a pollution and emit a lot of greenhouse gases and raw sewage pumped out at sea damages wildlife, while the noise they produce is also harmful for marine species.

Longer term, the prospects for attracting more cruise business to the Isle of Man were boosted earlier this year when Tynwald supported in principle the creation of a 240-metre long deep water berth in Douglas harbour, costing £11m.

Liverpool and Dublin are also developing their cruise ship trade.

The government hopes that will mean more visits to the island.

Source: IoMToday