The Isle of Man is set to welcome a record number of cruise passengers in 2018 with more than 9,900 passengers arriving on 24 cruise ships due to visit this year.

This compares with 23 cruise days and 6,397 passengers welcomed ashore in 2017.

The figure for 2018 is itself due to be exceeded in 2019 with 37 cruise ships booked in so far to visit the Isle of Man in 2019 and bookings already in place for 2020 and 2021.

Rob Callister MHK, the Department for Enterprise politician with responsibility for tourism, said: ’It is very encouraging to report the record numbers in cruise visits and cruise passengers due to visit the Isle of Man this year and in 2019 and the outlook for the island as a cruise destination continues to be very positive with very healthy long-term bookings for cruise calls.

’These figures are evidence of the increasing desire from globally-renowned cruise line companies to establish the island as an important stopover destination on cruise itineraries.

’As well as the exciting plans for the deep water berth in Douglas harbour, which Tynwald supported in principle as part of the Harbours Strategy in March, we are continuing to develop our services for cruise passengers and tourists within the Sea Terminal, with new signage, complimentary Wi-fi within the building and a number of outlets selling local artisan crafts, produce and souvenirs.’

The first cruise ship visiting the Isle of Man in 2018 was Ponant’s Le Soleal, chartered by American Tour operator Tauck, which arrived on Sunday.

She returns to the Isle of Man again on Wednesday, May 9.

On Sunday passengers went on tours around the island and local musicians entertained the passengers on-board before the ship set sail.

The largest vessel due to visit the island this year is the 54,000 tonne Seven Seas Explorer, which is due to arrive in Douglas during TT Week on June 7.

This year, the Isle of Man will welcome for the first time: Ocean Adventurer – May 16; Silver Cloud – May 20; Seven Seas Explorer – June 7; Azamara Journey – July 15; Azamara Pursuit – July 25; Star Breeze – August 31.

Source: IoMToday