CRUISE fans will soon be able to travel to Morocco from Tilbury.

It follows a deal being struck between the Port of Tilbury bosses and Fred. Olsen - a Norwegian-owned cruise company.

Currently, the 800-capacity Marco Polo is the only liner operating from the port.

From next year it will be joined by Fred. Olsen’s ship Black Watch, which will also cater for 800 holiday-makers and sail to Portugal, the Canary Islands and Norway.

Captain Richard Exley, Tilbury port’s cruise manager, pictured below left, said: ”Some thirty years ago, Fred. Olsen Lines operated passenger vessels from Tilbury to the Canary Isles and now, in 2014, we look forward to welcoming them back to the historic landing stage and the London Cruise Terminal.”

Its departures are anticpated to bring extra jobs and cash - and a wealth of opportunity to Tilbury and Thurrock.

One port source said that as direct result of this deal, there could soon be added demand for more hotels in the area.

Adam Coulter, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, the world's largest cruise reviews site, pictured below right, believes these are exciting times for the port and Thurrock.

And the deal could attract more liners to town. He said: “I don’t see why more small, regional players won’t choose Tilbury in the future.

“There’s a massive catchment area and that’s a big advantage.

Thurrock Gazette:

-Adam Coulter, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic is predicting big things for the Port of Tilbury, as cruise liners turn to regional ports.

“It all means more jobs, more money coming into the area and it means regeneration. Each time a ship stops, it brings in a lot of money.”

The port has already begun a multi-million pound revamp of its famous cruise terminal, which is starting with restoration of the baggage hall’s cupola.

Thurrock Gazette:

- Capt. Richard Exley, pleased to welcome back Fred. Olsen.

The terminal, already offers journeys around the world on the Marco Polo, which has had its busiest year so far. But does not travel to Morocco.

Nathan Philpot, sales and marketing director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We appreciate the considerable investment the port has made in developing the London Cruise Terminal.

“We know that our arrival will bring considerable economic benefits to Tilbury and the surrounding areas.”

The first departure of Black Watch is scheduled for November 15 next year. It will be a 14-night Mystery Cruise, dubbed as perfect for the “seasoned cruiser”, where passengers are unaware of the ship’s destination.

Thurrock Gazette:

Fred. Olsen's Black Watch