SMS Signs New Three-Year Deal to Secure Cruise Ship Jobs in Portsmouth

Southern Maritime Services Operations

SMS staff service a cruise ship by loading stores at Portsmouth International Port

Stevedoring and ancillary services company Southern Maritime Services (SMS) has signed a three-year contract with Portsmouth International Port (PIP) to provide support services for all cruise ships calling in the port.

The agreement will sustain up to 40 jobs each time a cruise ship calls in the  port, which is set to handle a growing number of callers this  year. PIP, owned by Portsmouth City Council, continues to expand its cruise business with a total of 41 calls booked for 2015. More than half the calls  will be turnaround operations with ships disembarking and embarking hundreds of passengers each time.

The first cruise ship call by the vessel Voyager, operated by Voyages of Discovery, arrived this month (March) and calls will continue until November. New callers at the port this year include Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2, the Portuguese ship Funchal and  Noble Caledonia’s Sea Explorer.

Utilising dedicated passenger check-in facilities in the main terminal, SMS offers a turn-key service for cruise ship clients, taking care of passengers, their vehicles and their baggage from the moment they arrive at the port. Services include meet and greet; baggage handling; passenger check-in; passenger registration; porterage; stores and baggage loading, and valet car parking.

In addition, the company has its own fleet of fork lifts, telehandlers, platforms, cages and conveyors to receive and load cruise inventory, hotel, food and beverage stores onto ships, along with loading and unloading passenger baggage.

SMS Director Paul Kempton commented: “We have been providing port services for cruise ships in Portsmouth for ten years and this new contract will help us to develop our equipment and services further. Portsmouth International Port is becoming increasingly popular for hosting and handling cruise ships and we are committed to supporting the City Council in its development.”

Rupert Taylor, PIP Harbour Master, said:  “Our business has grown as we have built a reputation for offering flexible and bespoke services to cruise ship operators.  Southern Maritime Services has played a valuable role in developing and delivering these services, helping us to attract a growing number of small and medium sized vessels. Feed back from clients is always positive. I know that as we continue to expand our cruise ship activity the experience and expertise that SMS brings to Portsmouth International Port will help us further increase our calling and turnaround business.”

SMS is part of the Independent Port Handling group of companies, which also provides support services for cruise ships in Southampton, Liverpool and Leith in Scotland.

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Stevedoring and ancillary services company Southern Maritime Services (SMS) has handled the unloading of a newly-built Gosport ferry at Portsmouth International Port (PIP).

The 250 tonnes vessel, named Harbour Spirit, was discharged after arriving on board the cargo ship Amoenitas from Croatia and was unloaded into the water before making the short crossing to her new home in Gosport.

She is similar in size and layout to the existing ferry fleet and will replace the 1966-built pair, MV Gosport Queen and MV Portsmouth Queen, on the route between Gosport and Portsmouth. Harbour Spirit will carry up to 300 passengers and will include more modern facilities and better cycle storage.

SMS Director Paul Kempton explained: “The new ferry was unloaded using ship’s cranes in a tandem heavy lift and required a precise and careful discharge operation. It was fitting that we were able to deliver the new ferry through Portsmouth utilising the port’s facilities and the expertise of local service companies.”

SMS is one of the leading stevedoring companies at PIP, including handling all the port’s cruise ship callers.


Stevedoring and ancillary services company Southern Maritime Services (SMS) has kicked off a busy 2015 cruise season at Portsmouth International Port (PIP) by handling the Voyages of Discovery ship Voyager.

The 15,270 tonnes Voyager arrived from Spain and set sail on a 16-day cruise to the Norwegian fjords and into the Arctic Circle with nearly 440 passengers.

SMS, which handles all cruise ship callers at PIP, also disembarked some 450 passengers and placed on board a full load of food, provisions, beverages and technical stores, including supplies sourced locally.

The call was the first of 37 cruise ship visits being made to PIP this year, with the Voyager scheduled to make six calls between now and the middle of May.

SMS also carried out passenger check-in and embarkation, valet car parking and ship’s agency as part of its programme for the Voyager’s maiden seasonal call.

SMS Director Paul Kempton explained: “We’re looking forward to a busy 2015 cruise season and Voyager will be an important initial part of that programme. She is a high quality ship which offers premier cruising and our service reflects that.”