A £2.6MILLION revamp will allow the Port of Tilbury to accommodate the world’s biggest cruise liners.
The landing stage at the 98-year-old harbour, now known as the London Cruise Terminal, is being partially rebuilt and extended so it can welcome post-Panamax ships, which carry 3,000-plus passengers.
News of the investment comes as the port celebrates completing works, totalling almost £20million.
A £3.5million EU grant added to a £16.5million investment by the port’s owners, Forth Ports, has seen new cranes, straddle carriers, a new automated terminal entrance gate and a bespoke ICT system developed at the port.
And work is soon set to begin on the huge warehousing development - the London Distribution Centre - across the road from the port, set to bring 1,100 more jobs.
Perry Glading, the port’s chief operating officer, said: “This investment secures Tilbury’s position as a key shipping and distribution location with unrivalled access to London - and the South East of England.
“We handle in excess of half a million containers per year, and we are the only UK port truly servicing both deep sea and short sea customers.”
The Gazette revealed in December how Fred Olsen’s Black Watch ship will begin using the terminal later this year, with a first cruise - a Mystery Cruise - scheduled to set sail in November.
Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo is already based at Tilbury.
Meanwhile, a £370,000 revamp of the cruise terminal baggage hall’s cupola is already underway, with work on expected to be completed by the end of May.
A spokeswoman for the Cruise Terminal said: “£2.6million is going to be spent rebuilding the centre and the final sections of the Grade II listed landing stage, which would enable the London Cruise Terminal to host post-panamax sized cruise ships.
“Work on that will begin in the near future.”
Jackie Doyle-Price, the MP for Thurrock is excited. She said: “This is great news for Tilbury and a sign of real confidence on the part of Forth Ports that the future of Tilbury Cruise terminal is bright.
“The economy of Thurrock is rooted in its position on the Thames and this investment proves that is as true of Thurrock's future as it is of its past.
“This investment will mean more people coming through Tilbury and will bring more opportunities for jobs and growth.”