We considered a cruise for our honeymoon a few years ago. I liked the idea of visiting 10 cities in 10 days, as a sort of turbo tourism. I was put off when I remembered a Round The Island Yacht Race I took part in and spent the whole time going gradually greener.
I was supposed to be reporting on it for local radio, but spent most of the time just giving an update of how ill I felt. I’m assured cruise ships are much more stable than a yacht which was nicknamed ‘The Vomit Comet’ but I didn’t fancy taking the risk.
Still, it’s quite clear that cruising is hugely popular and the Solent is something of centre for such things.
And so, I was intrigued to hear of tentative-one day-potential plans to exploit Cowes as a stopping point for cruise ships.
It’s clearly just an idea at the moment but the press release includes this quote;
Capt. Stuart McIntosh, Cowes Harbour Master, said: “There is real potential to establish Cowes as a popular cruise ship destination and with its central south coast location, it is an ideally situated port-of-call for cruise ship operators catering to the northern European luxury cruise market.”
No doubt there are obstacles, but I love the idea of huge great cruise ships turning up in Cowes and thousands of foreign tourists arriving for the day. Sure, it wouldn’t bring any overnight trade to support accommodation providers but there’s potential to showcase the Isle of Wight during a quick tour which will lead to return visits.
And of course, it would be a real boost for retailers and attractions to have queues out the door outside of school holidays.
So what would people do during their few hours onshore? I’ve had this discussion a few times recently with people who have only a few hours on the Island and want to get a feel for it.
Cowes is one of my favourite parts of the Isle of Wight, but you wouldn’t want to spend the whole day there unless you particularly enjoyed watching boats (presumably you get enough of that onboard a cruise ship). You’d be much better to hop on an open top bus or a bicycle and have an explore.
One option I’d favour would be an open top bus with a walk up to the Pepperpot, fossil hunting at Brook Chine and then the obligatory visit to either The Needles Old Battery or the chairlift and Alum Bay. The views from The Pepperpot are glorious as is the drive over the top of the Military Road and down into Freshwater Bay.
History fans could probably combine Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House into one day if they didn’t spend too long reading every single noticeboard (like my mother would).
And then there’s the Twee Tour, which would incorporate Godshill and Shanklin’s Olde Village – we’d market it as “More thatch than you can shake a stick at!”
There’s plenty of potential there, and the Isle of Wight is compact enough that visitors could see some really lovely parts without spending all day on a bus.
Probably best if cruise ships don’t arrive during Cowes Week though, I think it might get a bit crowded
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog