Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Swan Hellenic cruise boss criticised over ferry slurs

Portsmouth ferry port
Image caption The new terminal replaces the current building which opened in 1976

The boss a Portsmouth haulage company has reacted angrily at remarks made by a cruise ship company boss referring to lorry drivers "smelling of body odour".

Lord Sterling, of Swan Hellenic, said his passengers did not want to mix with ferry passengers, describing some of them as "semi-lager louts".

The peer later said his comments had been taken "totally out of context".

Alain Tremorin, director of ACP Freight Services, said: "People other than lorry drivers can suffer body odour."

He said: "Cruise passengers can be unshaven or wear shorts as well. I've never seen anyone on a ferry with their shirt off."

Lord Sterling made his comments at a visit to Portsmouth's new passenger terminal and had asked the port to provide separate facilities for cruise customers after his firm switches operations from Southampton to the city next summer.

He was speaking to representatives of the port as he was touring building work at the terminal, and was reported as saying: "We want to create a certain atmosphere, a five-star setting, as soon as people arrive to travel.

"I am concerned our customers, who are expecting that, will instead be asked to mix with lorry drivers, who in the summer suffer from BO, wear shorts and no shirt and in some cases won't have shaved for days."

Alain Tremorin, director of ACP Freight Services, said: "Cruise passengers can be unshaven or wear shorts as well.

"I've never seen anyone on a ferry with their shirt off. People other than lorry drivers can suffer body odour."

Lord Sterling said in response: "What I said was you've also got all the lorry drivers coming in from long day-hauls, not having had an opportunity to change or wash.

"Many of them in the summer months will be in pretty light kits, to say the least.

"It wasn't meant to be done in an insulting way.

"If you go to Harwich, if you go to Dover, if you go to Southampton, the cruise terminal facilities are separate from the other facilities because you have different needs."

The new £16m council funded terminal, expected to be ready in February, will have airport-style check in desks, shops and restaurants and will be able to cater for 2,400 passengers.

Lord Sterling's specialist holiday company will base its three luxury liners in Portsmouth for the next five years.

Portsmouth ferry port has until now mostly catered for cars and lorries using cross-channel ferries.

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