The Portsmouth City Council owns the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port and commercial port, which are controlled by the Planning, Regeneration, and Economic Development Executive Member. An 1839 Act of Parliament established the City Council to construct and improve port facilities and collect harbor dues. Over time, additional Parliamentary acts have authorized port expansions and the construction of the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port.
The Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port handles 80% of the ports commercial traffic, but the port is market-driven and committed to developing as a multi-user port.
The Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port was opened in 1976, initially offering two cross-channel companies and an operating area of about 1.6 hectares of reclaimed land. A third shipping company joined the facility in 1977 to move passengers and freight to the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. Continuously expanding to meet growing demands, today the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port covers about 17.6 hectares. More recent additions include a new passenger information service at The Passenger Terminal and a new five-floor car park.
The Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port offers a wide range of local ferry services and cruise facilities. Operating at the Gunwharf Terminal, the Isle of Wight Ferries, Wightlink, offers the only car and passenger service with five vehicle ferries with double-wide ro-ro ramps and a foot passenger catamaran service.
On the seafront, the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port’s Southsea Hovertravel Ltd. runs a passenger-only hovercraft service to Ryde, with departures every half hour and a connecting bus service to the Portsmouth City Centre and the railway station.
Two ferries at the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port, operated by Gosport Ferry Ltd., make almost 100 crossings per day. Carrying over 3.5 million passengers in 2007, the ferries move passengers between Portsmouth and Gosport (eliminated the need to travel around Portsmouth Harbor).
Several excursion tours operate in the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port. They include a waterbus tour of the Naval Dockyard, tours of the dockyard and Portsmouth Harbor, summer trips to the Victorian forts, a ride aboard the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, or trips to the Camber Quay where the fishing fleet sells fresh fish in Old Portsmouth. There are also abundant moorings for yachts, tall ships, and other pleasure vessels at Portsmouth Harbor.
In 2007, more than 72 vessel calls were made at the Portsmouth Harbour facilities, and over three thousand calls came to the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port. The Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port’s Continental and Channel Island services moved more than two million passengers and over 648 thousand vehicles in 2007. In the same year, the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port’s Gosport Ferry Passenger Service carried 3.5 million passengers, and the Isle of Wight Hovercraft Service moved almost 796 thousand passengers. The Isle of Wight Car Ferry at the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port moved over 996 thousand vehicles and more than 2.5 million passengers, and the Isle of Wight Passenger Ferry served over 1.3 million passengers. During 2007, twelve cruise ships carrying almost three thousand passengers called at the Commercial Port at the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port
In 2007, the Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port’s Commercial Port imported over 892 thousand tons of cargo, including more than 468 thousand tons of fruit and 413 thousand tons of ballast. Imports of more than 230 thousand tons were dominated by general cargoes (194.8 thousand tons).