Greenock Ocean Terminal bounces back as cruise ship numbers set to almost double this year

Greenock port director Jim McSporran and the MSC Magnifica

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ONE of Scotland’s main cruise ports is set to experience its busiest year since before the pandemic, with an expected doubling of ship visits this season.

Greenock Ocean Terminal is gearing up for one of its best years ever, with 74 cruise liners booked into the Inverclyde town’s new dedicated pontoon across 2022.

As many as 140,000 passengers and 35,000 crew members are expected to pass through the port in its first full season since Covid effectively closed down the cruise industry.

It sees the terminal return to almost pre-pandemic levels after only 41 vessels visited in 2021 due to the shorter cruise season, while only one passed through in 2020 before lockdown struck in March that year. 

The figures are also up from the 62 that visited in 2018, and only slightly behind the 77 that passed through in 2019.

Jim McSporran, Clydeport Port Director at Peel Ports said: “Cruises are a really important part of what we do at Greenock, as well as the container and other cargo vessels we have coming in. We’ve very proud of the connection between the town and the maritime industry, so we hope everyone will be as pleased as we are to see these vessels returning in such numbers.

“The new visitor centre, which will be finished later this year, will be a real game changer for the terminal and underlines how committed we are to making the most of our facilities in the community.

“Having such a large number of passengers across the year will also be a real boost for businesses and tourist attractions across Inverclyde and central Scotland, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.”

Allan Warwick, chair of Discover Inverclyde Tourism Partnership, added: “The new cruise season is always a welcome start to a busy season of visitors and a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic places, venues and businesses across Inverclyde.
“We aim to promote the fantastic visitor offer Inverclyde has to cruise visitors and also to visitors from closer to home to discover Inverclyde for themselves this year.”

The announcement comes as the giant 95,000 tonne MSC Magnifica, capable of carrying over 3,200 passengers and nearly 1000 crew on its 16 decks, arrived at the terminal this morning (22nd April). 

The vessel will be one of the biggest to dock at the terminal throughout the busy cruising season, which will come to a close in November.

It comes ahead of the completion of a new £19.2million cruise ship visitor centre later this year at the terminal.

It is estimated the development will increase visitor numbers to 150,000 a year and provide a £26 million boost to the Scottish economy.

The dedicated cruise ship visitor centre will feature a museum paying tribute to the renowned late artist George Wyllie, who previously worked as a customs officer in the town. 

It will also include a restaurant, a roof terrace with views of the River Clyde and arrivals and departure hall.

Located on the Firth of Clyde, the west-facing freight port has been at the heart of Scotland’s shipping industry since 1876, with its container terminal officially opening in 1969.

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