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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