A NORTH-EAST port has welcomed its first large cruise ship of the season as it gears up for a busy year.

The Port of Tyne, in South Shields, is set to welcome 59 cruise calls in 2019, and the first large transit ship bringing more than 2,000 visiting passengers, and 900 crew arrived at 8am this morning.

At 295.2m long and 86,619 gross tonnage, the Costa Mediterranea is one of the largest cruise ships to call at the Port of Tyne this year. Arriving from Edinburgh as part of a 13 day cruise around Northern Europe passengers disembarked to explore the North-East.

Sven Richards, Port of Tyne Operations Manager – Vessels, said: “We are delighted to welcome 59 cruise vessels this year, up from 51 in 2018. 2019 marks 20-years since the Port of Tyne welcomed its first cruise call and we’ll be giving a warm welcome to a record number of cruise lines during the year.

“Costa Mediterranea is the first of nine inaugural calls that will be calling at the Port this year, and our team at the International Passenger Terminal have been busy making final preparations to ensure that passengers and crew enjoy the most of their time at the Port of Tyne.”

Inspired by Italy’s historic places, Costa Mediterranea’s 12 decks includes 1,057 cabins including 660 with private balconies, four restaurants, 12 bars, a wellness centre, four pools, a casino, theatre and shopping centre.

The ship is due to set sail at 8pm bound for Ijmuiden.