Cruise passengers visiting Edinburgh face ‘Victorian’ port …

THE welcome offered to cruise passengers visiting the Capital has been slated by a leading backer of plans for a new liner terminal in East Lothian.

Calum Miller, a member of Prestonpans community council, said it currently took hours for visitors to disembark from liners because they had to be ferried ashore and when they got there they were met by poor facilities.

Mr Miller and his community council colleagues argue Prestonpans has the best natural harbour in the Forth and they want a new terminal for cruise ships built at the site of the former Cockenzie power station as an alternative to Leith and Rosyth, which are operated by Forth Ports.

In a blog, Mr Miller notes that according to Cruise Critic website, Edinburgh was the top Western European cruise ship destination of 2018.

But he writes: “Dig a little deeper however and it’s apparent that passengers were referring to the city and not the port facilities. Type ‘Edinburgh’ into the site search and what pops up from the comments is a litany of; cancelled visits, poor disabled access, poor port facilities, long transfer times and restricted port durations.”

He argues the problem is “Victorian port facilities” which cannot handle the bigger cruise liners. “These ships can’t limbo under the Forth bridges to visit Rosyth, nor squeeze into Leith docks. Instead, passengers are force-ferried on small tenders to South Queensferry or Newhaven harbour.

“The tenders are the cruise market equivalent of an outside loo, with the queue to get in often as long. A 4000-plus passenger ship visiting Edinburgh can take two hours to decant and a similar time to refill. That’s four hours from a 12-hour visit where passengers are twiddling thumbs rather than ringing tills – if they can make it ashore at all.”

His article on the Think Scotland website says cruise ships are growing in size and current arrangements at Edinburgh cannot cope.

He says 114 ships called at Edinburgh last year with 160,000 passengers – less than a third of the business handled by Tallinn or Copenhagen.

And he continues: “Europe’s top cruise destination is treading water and the financial potential is draining away.

“There’s an obvious solution to scaling Edinburgh’s cruise market, if our politicians care to look up from Brexit and East along the coast: a natural harbour already exists which once sheltered the oil tankers that refuelled the old Cockenzie power station.

“With a little dredging and investment, the biggest ships could soon be gliding alongside a more modern quay with professional facilities.”

“Converting old coal power stations into new ports is easy with their ready rail, road and sea access.”

Rob Mason, head of Cruise for Capital Cruising, Forth Ports’ cruise business, said: “We are extremely proud of our cruise business. We are seeing our passenger numbers grow each year, through investment in our facilities and we continue to seek opportunities across the Forth to accommodate the increase in demand from larger cruise liners.”

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