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.”

Sister Company CPS Names Among Top Worldwide Cruise Suppliers

Seatrade Cruise Awards Supplier of the Year

Lee Davis receives the finalist award from Seatrade Chairman Chris Hayman and Antonius Heuer, from award sponsors Fidelio Cruise Software

SMS sister company Cruise and Passengers Services (CPS), which provides services to Portsmouth International Port (PIP), has been named as a finalist in the prestigious annual Seatrade Cruise Awards announced at the Seatrade Europe Cruise and River Cruise Convention in Hamburg.

CPS was judged to be one of the top three companies in the supplier of the year  to the global cruise industry category.

The company is part of the Independent Port Handling (IPH) group, which also includes SMS and personnel agency Pathfinder. IPH Business Development Manager Lee Davis commented: “We are continually looking to improve the cruise experience for passengers using ports like Portsmouth and being named as one of the top suppliers in the industry reflects the latest technical advances that we have introduced.”

CPS is the UK’s leading valet parking company for serving cruise ship passengers and has further improved its services by upgrading bespoke hardware and software systems used by operatives at each of its ports.

CPS has operations at Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool and Oban in Scotland, ensuring the safe keeping of some 75,000 cars while passengers are away.

Judged by an independent panel of experienced cruise industry specialists, the Seatrade Cruise Awards are one of the highest accolades in the cruise industry.

The Seatrade Cruise Awards form part of the series of global Seatrade events, websites and publications that covers every aspect of the cruise and maritime industries, bringing together key people to encourage innovation and to produce powerful learning, networking and promotional platforms.

SMS and Portsmouth Port Welcome Back Ultra Luxury Cruise Ship


Hebridean Princess manoeuvres to dock at Portsmouth International Port

Portsmouth International Port (PIP) cruise handling specialists Southern Maritime Services (SMS) have welcomed back the small five-star cruise vessel Hebridean Princess on her first visit to the port in four years.

Carrying  some 40 guests, Hebridean Princess and a crew of 38, the exclusive ship made two calls at PIP, initially arriving from Honfleur  in  France and sailing for  Dorset and then returning for another day call in Portsmouth four days later, before sailing to Newhaven as part of an historic maritime discovery voyage finishing in London.

Operated by Hebridean Island Cruises, Hebridean Princess started life as a car ferry and Royal Mail ship and was based in Oban for the first 25 years of her life. However, an extensive conversion to an ultra luxury cruise ship saw her refitted with 30 spacious, elegant and well-appointed cabins.

She now carries out itineraries around the UK coast, in particular the Western Isles of Scotland, during the summer.

SMS General Manager Alex Fernandez explained: “The small number of guests on board makes Hebridean  Princess  a unique cruise ship, more like a private yacht, and we tailor our services accordingly. As ship’s agents, we look after passenger excursions during their day in Portsmouth and provide any required bespoke services to support the ship’s exclusive status.” 

SMS Services Americas Cup Super Yacht Visitor to Portsmouth

Americas Cup 2

A VIP visitor to Portsmouth International port (PIP) in the shape of the 88m. luxury super yacht Musashi required special attention from Southern Maritime Services (SMS).

SMS specialists used their expertise to moor the yacht when she tied up at the port because the vessel was too big for Gunwharf  Quays.

With room for 18 guests, Musashi, built by Dutch company Feadship Yachts in 2011, is steel hulled with an aluminium superstructure. She was visiting PIP on a short stay before heading to the Solent to view the initial Americas Cup world yacht racing series.

SMS General manager Alex Fernandez explained: “We’re used to tying up small, luxury ships through the cruise callers at PIP and Musashi was an impressive sight as she came alongside. We’re hopeful that the Americas Cup will bring more business to the port and ourselves over the next couple of years.
Americas Cup 1

SMS Supports Shipment of Masts for World’s Biggest Yacht

Mast 1

When you’re transporting the tallest sailing masts in the world you need to be sure they are securely fastened to the barge carrying them and that was the challenge set for Southern Maritime Services in a weekend operation at the Portchester location of Magma Structures.
The three composite structures, measuring around 100 metres, were loaded on the barge for the voyage to Germany where they will be fitted on the world’s biggest sailing yacht, currently in build at the Nobiskrug yard on the Eider River in Rendsburg.
A special barge was brought into Portsmouth International Port to ship the masts but a key requirement was the ability to lash the masts securely for the voyage across the North Sea.

Mast 2
SMS was called upon to provide both expert labour and additional ten-tonne lashings to carry out the task as the masts were carefully moved out of the Magma Structures workshops and placed on the barge ready for towing to Germany where they will be fitted on to the 170m. yacht, which is due for delivery next year.
SMS General Manager Alex Fernandez explained: “Any significant structure being transported, particularly with high value, requires specialist lashing skills to guarantee that shipments are secure and can be moved safely. We have the combination of skills and equipment that mean we are well placed to offer this service anywhere on the South Coast and the yacht mast project was certainly one of the more unusual projects that we have been asked to assist with.”