GREENOCK Ocean Terminal staff are on the crest of a wave as they prepare for a record-breaking week - welcoming seven ships and 9,000 passengers to the town.

The terminal is enjoying its busiest year as a cruise port so far, with 36 ships bringing a total of 52,570 passengers - up a quarter on last year.

But this week will be a first, with seven vessels arriving - including two on the same day.

Many of the crew and passengers will plough vital money into the local economy, while they will also enjoy guided excursions around the area, courtesy of the Inverclyde Tourist Group.

It is estimated the cruise business now brings £2 million a year into the district’s coffers.

Andrew Hemphill, Clydeport’s general manager at the Ocean Terminal, below, said: “Year on year, we are building the cruise business at Greenock, and 2010 is the best to date.

“Breaking the 50,000-passenger barrier for the first time is a fantastic achievement, and testament to the efforts that have been made to improve the experience of overseas visitors arriving at Greenock.

“However this coming week is exceptional, and we are looking forward to our busiest ever seven days.” The Ocean Terminal’s revamped £250,000 cruise facility - which opened last summer - welcomed the giant 3,200-passenger Crown Princess this morning, while the 1,916-passenger Westerdam, 1,774-capacity Ocean Countess and the more intimate Saga Ruby, Minerva, Amadea and The World are all scheduled to dock over the next few days.

Mr Hemphill said: “We believe the number of ships now calling is testament to the improvements we have been carrying out year on year. Last summer’s upgrade has had a major visual effect on our arrivals hall, which until then was essentially a modified port shed.

“We are delighted the Greenock experience has been enhanced, along with the help of the Inverclyde Tourist Group, giving a positive impression of our town and our country.”