Guernsey Press

Cruise ships played a part in tourism’s ‘best summer’

As St Peter Port prepares to host the final cruise liner visitor of the season, Emily Abreu speaks to those who form a part of the local cruise industry

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The Emerald Princess at anchor off St Peter Port. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31198043)

GUERNSEY’S tourism industry has flourished this year after a bumper cruise ship season, with many local businesses popular with holidaymakers reporting their ‘best summer’ in years.

There were 84 cruise ships scheduled to visit the island this year, the first time any have visited since before the pandemic, after the States decided to cancel all trips in 2021.

They brought more than 182,000 passengers to the island with them since April.

The final ship of the season – the Vasco de Gama – is due to arrive tomorrow from Honfleur on its way to La Coruna, for a half-day visit, carrying up to 1,000 passengers.

After Covid put the brakes on tourism and stopped most operators from offering the majority of their services, many of the island’s tourist attractions and businesses have experienced a surge in visitors this year.

Since launching the company in 2020, tuk tuk operator Tim Bean said his target market has been passengers from the ships.

‘We have had great support from locals in the pandemic years, which has been fantastic,’ he said.

Up to five tuk tuks are operating on any given day, and drivers will often drop off passengers and pick up more straight away.

‘We have had some fantastic weather and have done some weddings. Our operating season continues until the last cruise, and then we have the Christmas light tours which were all booked up last year,’ said Mr Bean.

The first ship of the season arrived on 15 April.

Guernsey Goldsmiths and Guernsey Pearl owner Andy Ison said his sales this year had been in line with that of 2019.

‘When the cruises are in, my sales in the Town shops triple and at Rocquaine they quadruple. We do extremely well when they are in. It’s a shame that a lot of local people don’t appreciate what passengers bring – there is a huge amount of people that benefit from cruise liners but there is a lack of understanding from locals,’ he said.

He said that opening on a Sunday was good for his business but as many Town shops do not open, there was less for tourists when they arrive on that day.

‘If we want to get the business, we have to do something different. We have been doing promotions for cruise liner passengers, for example a discount of a £5 voucher – we do incredibly well when the cruises are in.’

Restaurants along seafront of St Peter Port inevitably appeal to passengers looking for a convenient and accessible place to eat.

Balthazar owner Steve Le Poidevin. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31419092)

Balthazar has relished in the consistent flow of holidaymakers.

‘This has been by far the best summer in the last three years, we have seen more cruise ship passengers than before, which has been great for our business,’ said owner Steve Le Poidevin.

‘We have a great team that works hard to accommodate the increased numbers, we all enjoy the extra buzz of activity from the cruise ship passengers.’

The restaurant is always informed about how many passengers are set to come off the ships.

‘The cruise ship passengers have a provided a significant increase of business that is very welcome after the two lockdowns we went through.

'Having the extra footfall of people in town adds a great atmosphere for locals and other visitors and breathes life into town,’ said Mr Le Poidevin.

What did cruise liners ever do for us?

THE States says that cruise liners have a significant trickle-down impact through the economy.

They pay harbour and passenger landing fees, use pilot boat services, engage shipping agents, need tender services, and involve pier-handling and excursion-handling staff.

The ship can book excursions direct to sell to passengers, including Herm, Sark, outdoor activities, rib voyages, cycle, walking and coach tours.

Liner passengers will also book activities and tours, with taxis, tuk tuks, Le Petit Train, hire bikes and guided tours.

Passengers will also use buses, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and attractions and museums.