Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

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Portland (Stonehenge), England

Portland (Stonehenge), England


The rugged Isle of Portland seems to dangle from England's south coast, tied to the mainland by the slender arc of Chesil Beach. This quiet port is a perfect jumping-off spot for visits to the South English countryside.    

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AMBIENCE

Taken on its own, Portland might not warrant a second look, but when you consider its easy access to the beautiful Dorset,  Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire countryside and the area's historic towns, it all comes into focus. Neighboring Weymouth is a charming seaside resort, with a broad, beachfront esplanade and attractive, Victorian-era brick buildings filled with restaurants, pubs, and shops. The natural beauty of the rocky coastline is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and, separated from London by distance, the countryside and towns great and small maintain much of their traditional character.

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HISTORY

As an area known for its fine stone, it's little surprise the island has been inhabited since the Middle Stone Age. The Romans also occupied this easily defended, rocky island. That didn't deter the Vikings; this is the site of the first recorded Viking raid on England in 787 AD. King Henry VIII raised the castle here in 1539, to defend against the French. Breakwaters were  added to the natural anchorage in the mid-1800s to create one of Europe's largest artificial harbors, one that played a major role in both World Wars. In World War II most warships were berthed farther from German bombers, but Portland was a major embarkation point for the D-Day Invasion. The island's greatest claim to history is its high quality, light gray limestone, which could be easily loaded on London-bound barges, where it was used most famously for St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace (Portland cement was named for its resemblance to the real thing).

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FACTS

Size: 122 sq. mi. (315 sq. km.) (island)/1,024 sq. mi. (2,653 sq. km.) (region)
Climate: Temperate Oceanic Temperatures: 48°F (9°C) to 62°F (17°C)
Population 12,400 (island)/ 745,400 (region) Busy Season Summer
Language: English Money: British Pound (£)
Time Zone: British Summer (UTC +1) Transportation: Walking, buses, taxi
Phones: Country code 044, area code 01305, dial 999 for emergencies
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