In Falmouth, the love of a place has manifested itself in a warm welcome for cruise ship passengers. Each ship that arrives here on the south coast of Cornwall (in the far west of the United Kingdom) is greeted by the so-called Falmouth Ambassadors. All are volunteers, ranging from 30 years old to 70 years old, many retired and from a variety of backgrounds. They all have a few shared attributes that make them true ambassadors for this town on the River Fal: a love of Falmouth, an appreciation for the marine environment inherent to the region and a keen interest in meeting new people, particularly those who arrive by ship.
“The initiative has vastly improved the welcome the port provides and is seen as something that the other ports in the region can aspire to,” says Mike Reynolds, Falmouth’s port operations director.
Some of the Ambassadors, all volunteers, say that passengers show greater appreciation in being greeted by locals who are enthusiastic about their home turf as opposed to being pestered by someone hawking taxi tours and trinkets.
The Ambassadors group was formed in 2007, an initiative undertaken by a few local cruise enthusiasts in partnership with the port. The local tourist authority kicked in some initial assistance. During the first year, there were only enough volunteers to greet a few of the ships that called on Falmouth, but word spread throughout the local community, and nowadays, with more than 50 volunteers, all ships are greeted.
Reynolds says that are up to ten volunteers “on duty” when a ship calls and that there are enough of the volunteers who have language skills that there’s always someone on dock to meet and greet in German, French, Spanish and other languages. “Some have taken guiding courses and not only meet and greet but also professionally guide,” Reynolds says.
The volunteers meet passengers quayside and travel with them on the complimentary shuttle busses that the port provides, narrating along the way. Volunteers wear uniforms and have a good supply of maps and other material to inform passengers. But it is their genuine enthusiasm and their love of sharing the best of Falmouth that passengers appreciate most.