Cruise ship support specialists Southern Maritime Services (SMS) have embarked on a busy 2018 schedule that will see the company handle around 50 per cent more cruise calls at Portsmouth International Port (PIP) this year compared to last.

SMS, which supports all cruise ship visitors to PIP, will service more than 40 calls at the port this year as PIP continues to build its base of cruise ship customers.

PIP’s cruise business has been boosted by Saga Cruises’ decision to base its Saga Pearl II vessel at the South Coast port, with a total of 14 turnaround calls scheduled for this year. Saga Pearl II will carry passengers to destinations including the Canaries, Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords, northern Europe and the Baltic.

SMS will provide a full stevedoring service, including baggage handling and stores loading, for Saga Pearl II, which has capacity for more than 500 passengers. Sister company Cruise and Passenger Services (CPS) will also support the calls with passenger valet parking services.

SMS is part of the Independent Port Handling Group and Director Lee Davis explained: “We are delighted to see PIP’s cruise business growing again and SMS is fully committed to making 2018 a successful season for the port.”

Cruise Business


Southern Maritime Services (SMS) has been selected to provide port handling services for an offshore wind farm accommodation ship calling monthly at Portsmouth International Port (PIP).

The 122 m. Wind Solution, is calling regularly at PIP as part of an operation to bring fresh crew and supplies to the massive Rampion wind farm project currently being constructed off the Sussex Coast.

When completed, the Rampion wind farm will consist of 116 giant turbines, providing 400 megawatts of electricity to the national grid from a site 13km out in the English Channel. It should be completed by 2018, and it is estimated it will be able to supply 300,000 homes with green energy.

Project managers decided on using a floating hotel to keep the construction crew as close as possible to where they are working, cutting hours of transportation every day.

They decided that PIP was the perfect place for resupplying the operation, with Wind Solution carrying the necessary personnel and produce to the construction site after a 24 hours turnaround period at Portsmouth.

SMS was selected to provide full stevedoring services to the vessel. Its first call this Spring saw SMS, with a small team of six skilled stevedores, load 20 Containers, waste skips and garbage compactors. Subsequent monthly service calls will involve loading of supplies and removal of waste. Its final de-mobilization call will be around March/April 2018.

Wind Solution is owned and operated by C-Bed Floating Hotels. The ship has a purpose built boat landing stage, which will be used by up to twenty smaller vessels to bring construction workers to their accommodation after a day working on constructing the turbines. The ship can accommodate 115 guests, mostly in single cabins.


SMS has kicked off its 2017 cruise season at Portsmouth International Port (PIP) with a turnaround operation on the luxury French passenger ship Le Soleal.

The 264-passenger ship operated by Ponant Cruises called in Portsmouth to start a ten-day round Britain Celtic Coastlines cruise.

SMS supported disembarking 200 passengers and a similar number joining the ship for the cruise that will include calls in Guernsey, the Scilly Isles, Ireland and the Isle of Man. Le Soleal will also call in Liverpool during the voyage where she will be handled by SMS’ sister company SCH.

Cruise Operations Manager Glen Gardner explained: “Portsmouth is an ideal cruise turnaround port for smaller, luxury ships and Le Soleal certainly fits that category. SMS ensured a successful operation with a range of services including baggage handling and ship and quayside support.”

The season’s first turnaround operation at PIP followed a transit call by Phoenix Reisen’s German cruise ship Deutschland, which SMS also supported.


Macmillan Cake Day

Staff at Southern Maritime Services put their cake making skills to good use to help MacMillan Cancer Support’s annual coffee morning.

After a busy night of baking, they sold their wares around Portsmouth International Port and the passenger terminal to raise more than £100.

“It was a great effort by our staff and we had tremendous support from people who work in the port or were visiting. We’d like to thank everyone who contributed,” said SMS Manager Debbie McGrath.

Caption for photo: SMS staff and their families enjoy a taste of their cakes baked for the MacMillan coffee morning



Port handling specialists Southern Maritime Services (SMS) have achieved a new “first” by handling three cruise ships simultaneously in Portsmouth International Port (PIP).

The calls included two turnaround calls by the Voyages of Discovery ship Voyager and Noble Caledonia’s Hebridean Sky respectively, plus a day call by the National Geographic vessel Orion, which arrived from London and sailed for Alderney as part of a voyage round England, Wales and Ireland.

More than 1,000 passengers were embarked and disembarked on the Voyager and Hebridean Sky as the two ships prepared to sail on itineraries that included the Channel Islands and Northern Europe. In addition, SMS carried out storing and mooring work on all three ships, and handled the ship’s agency for the Voyager, while sister company Cruise and Passenger Services (CPS) was responsible for valet parking of passenger cars.

Around 50 personnel were required for the operations, which also included checking passengers in and handling their baggage.

Director Kevin Hulme explained: “It was undoubtedly the busiest day of the year in Portsmouth and SMS showed the full range of their handling capabilities to service the ships. Servicing three ships in a day underlined how Portsmouth is growing as a destination for small cruise ships.”

SMS is part of Independent Port Handling, the UK’s most extensive provider of cruise ship handling services, and the busy day in Portsmouth coincided with the Group’s other subsidiaries also carrying out cruise ship handling operations in Southampton and Liverpool on the same day.


Stevedoring and ancillary services company Southern Maritime Services (SMS) has handled the first of 36 cruise ship call expected at Portsmouth International Port (PIP) this year following the arrival of Swan Hellenic’s Minerva.

More than 190 passengers joined the luxury small cruise ship as she sailed on a 13-day trip to the Channel Islands and the North and West coasts of France.

Besides manning the passenger reception desk, SMS also provided stevedoring baggage services and loaded several tonnes of food and other ship’s stores as Minerva made the first of nine calls scheduled for PIP this year.

In addition, SMS’ sister company, Cruise and Passenger Services (CPS), provided valet car parking services for passengers joining the ship.

SMS General Manager Alex Fernandez explained: “We are looking forward to another busy cruise ship season at Portsmouth as PIP continues to build its reputation as the favoured turnaround port for small cruise ships calling on the South Coast. We are committed to playing our part in ensuring that the port maintains its reputation for providing cruise passengers with an efficient, seamless experience.”