New gangway boosts Harwich International's reputation in prestigious cruise market
NEW state-of-the-art cruise passenger gangway has placed Harwich International Port even higher in the league of top-class cruise ports, guests at an official opening ceremony were told on Tuesday 8 September.
The gangway, which represents a multi-million pound investment by the port's owner, Hutchison Ports (UK), was officially opened by the leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield. The county council is one of the partners in the Haven Gateway Partnership, which organised the event as part of its ongoing commitment to promoting and developing the subregion's cruise business.
"I am honoured to be opening this new facility at Harwich International, marking, as it does, a further step in the development of this world class port being able to attract the very best in the cruise industry," said Lord Hanningfield. "This facility clearly demonstrates the commitment and confidence that world-class businesses have in Essex and I would therefore like to pay tribute to all involved for securing and making this investment. Harwich International is acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the whole of the north-east of Essex which, together with our and partners' plans, will see the whole area transformed over the coming years."
Haven Gateway chairman George Kieffer said: "Harwich is one of the UK's top cruise facilities and this season will have seen 53 cruise calls, including five transit calls [day calls], with passenger throughput exceeding last year's. The cruise sector continues to expand, cruise ships continue to get larger, and technology moves forward; Harwich has proved its commitment to investment in the infrastructure and service to match."
Harwich has another reason to celebrate, said Mr Kieffer - it is one of just three ports shortlisted for the prestigious title of Turnaround Port of the Year in the international Seatrade Insider Cruise Awards 2009.
"We are delighted that Harwich International Port's excellent facilities and service have been recognised in this way. This new gangway can only add to the port's reputation and ability to accommodate the world's largest and most prestigious cruise vessels.
"We at the Haven Gateway Partnership are committed to continuing our close relationship with the port as we work together to promote our subregion and its unique heritage, cultural and tourism attractions for cruise passengers."
The official opening took place during a special day of celebrations, including a reception on board the 15-deck, 2,114-passenger cruise ship Costa Atlantica, and a craft fair showing off the very best of local skills.
The new cruise passenger gangway, built by TEAM of Barcelona, is designed to accommodate the world's largest cruise vessels. It is air-conditioned and has excellent flexibility, being capable of elevating up to 10 metres and with a range along the quay of 25 metres.
Together with expanded security facilities, it was installed and ready for the first call of the 2009 cruise season, on 2 May. Its official opening takes place on the occasion of the last "transit" (day) call and shortly before the very last cruise turnround call of the season.
David Gledhill, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK), said: "As one of the UK's top cruise facilities, it is important that we are able to provide the best facilities available to our customers as the cruise sector continues to expand. Our new boarding bridge is at the cutting edge of market innovation and technology, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this industry's development."
The 960 ft long, 85,619 ton Costa Atlantica's call into Harwich is part of a ten-night cruise from Copenhagen taking in England, France (Le Havre), Spain (Vigo, Cadiz and Malaga), Portugal (Lisbon) and Italy (Savona).
Passengers were able to take advantage of a number of shore excursion opportunities and also enjoy visiting a quayside craft fair laid on exclusively for passengers and crew of the Costa Atlantica by the Haven Gateway Partnership.
About 20 local craftsmen set up stalls selling ceramics, jewellery, children's gifts, local lavender products, woodturning specialities, handmade cards and postcards, among others. In addition, Adnams brewery ran a beer-tasting session, giving passengers the opportunity to sample its "East Green" carbon-neutral beer.