HRH The Princess Royal visits Greenock Ocean Terminal Visitor Centre

HRH The Princess Royal in the Greenock Ocean Terminal Visitor Centre

The Princess Royal met groups and businesses involved in the new terminal building

The Princess Royal was given a warm Inverclyde welcome as she visited the new Greenock Ocean Terminal Visitor Centre just six months after it was officially opened.

During her visit, The Princess Royal met officials from Inverclyde Council involved in delivering the project, staff from the port’s operator Peel Ports Clydeport, volunteers with the Inverclyde Tourist Group, members of the board of the George Wyllie Trust and staff from Scotts Greenock restaurant.

She also met Minister Donald Cameron, a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, representing the UK government which, along with the Scottish Government, provided the funding for the project though the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

She had earlier enjoyed a special reception on the MV Hebridean Princess, which was docked in the nearby Port of Greenock and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

After leaving the MV Hebridean Princess, The Princess Royal, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, walked along the waterfront before receiving a tour of the pontoon which was created as part of the £20.1 million project.

The pontoon enabled Ocean Terminal to welcome cruise ships with freight traffic now dedicated to the Port of Greenock, the former Ocean Terminal dock, and was a vital part of the overall development.

She was then welcomed to the visitor centre by piper Fraser Gallagher from Port Glasgow High School before receiving a tour and meeting council staff and officials who were involved in the multi-agency development as well as staff from Peel Ports Clydeport – which has contributed £8m to the recent wider renovation works at the terminal.

The Princess Royal enjoyed a sneak preview of the Wyllieum and met members of the board as they prepare to open to the public at the end of April, then met staff from Buzzworks’ Scotts Greenock restaurant.

Volunteers from the Inverclyde Tourist Group also spent time chatting to The Princess Royal.

The dedicated group, which received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2013, greets passengers arriving off cruise ships and offers tours and information on the best way to discover Inverclyde and beyond.

Provost Drew McKenzie then gave a short speech thanking The Princess Royal for her visit before she unveiled a commemorative plaque. Gabriel Quigg and Keira Dowds, the head boy and head girl from St Mary’s Primary, Greenock then presented the Princess Royal with a gift of a James Watt tartan rosette and scarf, and a posy of flowers.

Provost of Inverclyde Drew McKenzie said: “I was delighted to welcome The Princess Royal to Greenock Ocean Terminal Visitor Centre.

“Even though it was a cloudy Scottish day, the wonderful coastline of Inverclyde speaks for itself and Greenock Ocean Terminal visitor centre is one of the best places to view it.

“This project was a fine example of partnership working and that continues with various businesses and interests all involved in the running of the building.

“I am sure I speak for many in Inverclyde who are looking forward to the return of the splendid cruise ships to Greenock and this Royal visit was a wonderful way to get ready for another bumper season.”

It is estimated the development will provide a £26million boost to the Scottish economy.

The aim of the development was to increase visitor numbers to 150,000 passengers a year and that has already been surpassed.

Jim McSporran, port director at Peel Ports Clydeport, said: “It’s been a real honour to welcome the Princess Royal to Greenock today and to showcase some of our facilities, as well as share with her our ambitious plans for the future at the port.

“It’s been a really special day, and vessels don’t get much more impressive than the MV Hebridean Princess, so it was great to mark the 60th anniversary of the ship with such an event.

“We’re expecting another strong year for cruise numbers, building on last year’s record numbers, as we continue to look to grow tourist numbers to the terminal in the years ahead.”

Managing Director of Hebridean Island Cruises, Ken Charleson, said: “We were delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal back on board Hebridean Princess to help us celebrate the 60th anniversary of the launch of the vessel.

“Since 1989, Hebridean Princess has established herself as the epitome of luxury, small-ship Scottish cruising, earning an enviable reputation for her renowned level of service and attention to detail.

“We are thrilled that the facilities at the new Greenock Ocean Terminal Visitor Centre make embarkation such a comfortable and seamless process for our guests. We are proud to be one of the first vessels to use these amenities and for our guests to experience the genuine Scottish welcome that is afforded by all concerned.”

Greenock Ocean Terminal’s new visitor centre was officially opened in August last year and is getting ready for a full cruise ship season, which officially starts in April.