Staff at Portsmouth International Port are making final preparations to welcome back passengers heading for staycation cruises as lockdown rules are eased.
The Hampshire port has completed its cruise berth extension ahead of the reopening, leading to bookings from several major liners set for a summer schedule of UK sailings.
Viking Venus, the latest addition to the Viking Cruises luxury fleet, will set sail from Portsmouth on Monday May 17 for its maiden voyage and naming ceremony, hosting journalist and broadcaster Anne Diamond as the ship’s ceremonial godmother.
The first passenger sailings will commence on Saturday May 22 as Portsmouth becomes the homeport for Viking Venus’ initial five voyages to England’s “scenic shores”.
Other bookings are also scheduled with Virgin Voyages and Noble Caledonia and Brittany Ferries will provide passenger services to France and Spain again fully once international travel restrictions and advice are eased.
Andrew Williamson, the port’s passenger operations manager, said: “We can’t wait to welcome passengers back to Portsmouth, and want to reassure our customers of the new measures we have put in place to keep everybody safe.
“The safety of our passengers and staff remains a priority and we want journeys through our port to be as comfortable and easy as possible.”
The port has brought in non-intrusive temperature scanners, contactless touchpoints and frequent sanitisation as part of its Covid-19 measures.
Mr Williamson said: “While the way people travel may have changed, our main focus is still ensuring that passengers have the best start to their journey from Portsmouth.
“Holidays are now more anticipated than ever, and we want customers to feel that excitement and reassurance from the moment they arrive at the port.
“The layout of our terminal has been changed to allow customers to travel with ease, and teams from security to bus drivers are working hard to keep everybody safe.”