Hampton Roads is set to host an influx of visitors from across the pond, as it becomes a stop for a new cruise line. UK-based Marella Cruises will begin operating in the U.S. in the spring of 2021, and Norfolk is among its stopovers.
Sailing out of Port Canaveral, Marella’s 264-meter ship Discovery will visit a number of ports including Charleston, New York, and Norfolk, where there are nine scheduled stopovers.
Norfolk is expected to see an extra 16,000 passengers over the course of the stopovers, says maritime science center Nauticus, which is adjacent to the Decker Half Moone Center (Cruise Terminal) on the Elizabeth River. It “represents the largest annual port call commitment ever for the city,” Nauticus reports.
The Discovery can accommodate 1,830 passengers during each cruise, and the majority of guests will likely be British, Nauticus says. Chris Hackney, Managing Director for Marella Cruises, operated by travel organization TUI-UK, says the line is eager to add the East Coast to its roster of trips. “We’re really excited to be setting sail from the USA.”
The first Norfolk visit will be in April 2021, and subsequent stopovers will be in the summer and fall.
Of the anticipated boost in passenger traffic for the city, Nauticus Executive Director Stephen E. Kirkland says, “Our continued growth in this port-of-call cruise activity is testament to all this city and region have to offer. The word is out. Norfolk exceeds passenger expectations.”
The new partnership appears to be a win-win for visitors and the city; Marella passengers will be able to enjoy all that Norfolk has to offer, while the city will no doubt see a boost in tourism dollars.
While cruising to and from Hampton Roads, passengers aboard the Discovery will be able to enjoy a rock climbing wall, mini-golf course, outdoor movie theater, an indoor pool, and a five-story atrium. The ship’s global stopovers include ports of call in the Caribbean, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates.
–Laura Adams Boycourt