A ‘target-rich’ opportunity for photographers – The Royal Borough of Greenwich is to host London’s largest gathering of photogenic Tall Ships for 25 years.
A Special Report by Alastair McKenzie
The Regatta, Sail Royal Greenwich, involving up to 50 of the most spectacular Tall Ships in the world, will take place August 28 to September 1, 2014. It will be the first major Tall Ships event since London hosted the Tall Ships Race in 1989.
Greenwich is the perfect setting for this sort of event with its longstanding naval history, the presence of the Naval College, Observatory, the Cutty Sark, the Maritime Museum, and the longest river front in London.
On Tuesday 7 May, the contract with the Tall Ships Race organisers, Sail Training International, to bring the Regatta back to the capital, will be signed.
Dates for the Regatta itself will be announced when all the ports have been selected and the Race course determined. Meanwhile, VIP packages are available, with exclusive Tall Ships, for 12-135 guests (from £219 pp). There are also opportunities for full and varied multi-day corporate programmes. More information is available and you can book cruises at the Sail Royal Greenwich website.
The Thames is busy at the moment. Since 26 April, West India Dock has welcomed German sail training ship, Gorch Fock, the Canadian Navy destroyer, HMCS Iroquois and the French mine hunter, L’Aigle. The Port of London Authority (PLA) also hosted two cruise ships earlier this week – The Hurtigruten’s MS Flam was moored alongside HMS Belfast in the “Pool of London” just upstream of Tower Bridge, and The World a large residential cruise ship was moored midstream near Greenwich.
The PLA has been investing for the start of the summer season, preparing the world’s only floating cruise terminal, Welcome, ready to service The World and installing new security scanners in their baggage facility on Tower Pier.
“It’s great to see the season kick off with two ships arriving within half a day,” said PLA’s chief executive, Richard Everitt. “Over the course of the year we expect to welcome a number of cruise ships to our moorings in the capital. They give passengers the unique experience of waking in the heart of one of the world’s major cities, within easy reach of major tourist sites, such as the Tower of London and the Palace of Westminster.”
(And next week, the fun continues. The river is expected to welcome three Royal Navy vessels, coming to London as part of the events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.)
But Greenwich expects to welcome many more cruise ships in coming years with a new international cruise terminal at Enderby Wharf.
The terminal has been designed to accommodate the largest cruise ships – 240 metres long – that can sail through the Thames Barrier, handling up to 3,000 passengers embarking or disembarking at any one time with their accompanying luggage.
It is anticipated that around 25 cruise ships per annum will moor in Royal Greenwich within the heart of the capital when the terminal is fully operational in 2014, rising to perhaps 100 ships in later years.