PORTLAND got its first taste of cruise ship tourism on Saturday when 330 well-heeled German passengers disembarked to sample highlights of the city and region.
The MS Europa’s arrival was a drawcard in itself with thousands of onlookers from across the south-west and further afield driving down to watch it enter the harbour and dock at the smelter wharf.
A red-carpet welcome was rolled out for the international visitors, which included a variety of entertainment, displays and major events during the day.
“It was one of the biggest days Portland has enjoyed for years, exceeding all our expectations,” said cruise ship working group chairman Ray Gilby. “There were still heaps of visitors in town at 6pm to see the ship go out.
“We hope it is the start of a new wave of tourism and that more cruise companies see what we can offer.
“The captain told me he was surprised at the amount of preparation we had done.”
About 130 of the passengers opted to spend their time in the city — double earlier indications. The rest travelled by bus to Tower Hill, Warrnambool’s Flagstaff Hill and the Twelve Apostles.
Glenelg Shire Council mayor John Northcott congratulated the local community for its hospitality.
“It’s been a great boost for local business morale and the community as a whole,” Cr Northcott said.
“We provided the ship with a promotional video so they can take a slice of Portland with them.
“What had been seven years in the making for Glenelg Shire Council became a day that will go down in history.”
The MS Europa visited Melbourne yesterday and is scheduled to arrive in Sydney tomorrow before passengers fly back to Germany on Wednesday.