THE Dorset Belle pleasure cruise has returned to Bournemouth pier for the first time since 2012.

The 47-year-old boat ,which was moved to Cardiff Bay nine years ago, is now offering day trips around the bay.

Owner Dave Wilcock told the Daily Echo: “The main thing is that the Dorset Belle has been returned to Bournemouth.

"My boat was designed to work off Bournemouth pier, so that’s the big thing, we can get the boat returned back into its original colours.”

From March to May, Mr Wilcock was unable to run the service due to the weather but now it is up and running and he is expecting a good summer.

Last Saturday, the boat carried a total of 650 passengers around the bay.

It currently has the capacity for 70-80 passengers at a time due to Covid restrictions.

Last week, Mr Wilcock also started been running school trips.

He said: “The boat has had a tremendous response from people loving what we do.

“A lot of the older generation remember the boats from the 70s and 80s and are now coming and visiting us again.”

The Dorset Belle was made in the famous Bolson’s shipyard in 1984, which originally built landing craft in the Second World War.

Since its trip to Cardiff, the vessel has had a restoration.

Mr Wilcock said: “She’s had upgrades and changes right through her life but she’s actually better now than she’s ever been.

“We’ve had all the paint taken off, back to bare metal, there was 30 odd layers of paint on there that we had to get off.

“We’ve put new decks on, we’ve had engine rebuilds and she’s looking absolutely tremendous now.”

Mr Wilcock has a number of long term plans now that the boat has been restored, including attending Bournemouth Air Festival and running afternoon tea parties, school trips and sunset cruises.

“As the beaches have been getting busier we’ve been doing more business and we’re partnered up now with Bournemouth Tourism and Visit Dorset so the boat business is getting out there.

“People from further away are also picking up on Facebook pages these days and they know where we are so we’re expecting a good summer.”

The Dorset Belle will be running until the end of October.