MV Boudicca's arrival highlight's port's role as visitors' gateway to Shetland.
Lerwick Harbour will achieve another nautical milestone this weekend, with the arrival of the 1,000th cruise ship since the first was noted in the official records of the Shetland port.
MV Boudicca will sail into the harbour’s history books around noon on Sunday (2 August) with the approximately 800 passengers on board welcomed by quayside entertainment before exploring some of Shetland’s many attractions.
Lerwick Port Authority’s celebrations include a lunch for local guests and others from elsewhere in the UK whose sight-seeing around Shetland will include Böd of Gremista, birthplace of Arthur Anderson, co-founder of P&O and credited with inventing cruising, and which is now a museum in his honour.
While cruise ships first visited in the 19th century, before official port records, the SS Mira was the first noted officially, in July, 1928.
Sandra Laurenson, the Port Authority’s Chief Executive, commented: “Our 1,000th cruise ship highlights not only the increasing popularity of cruising in recent years, but also that of Lerwick as an established port-of-call on North-west Europe itineraries. More than half these arrivals have been since 1997, in a period when we have been actively marketing Lerwick as a gateway.
“Shetland’s warm welcome and many attractions, along with the port’s modern facilities, are a very successful combination. These factors, and the harbour’s capacity to handle the larger cruise ships now operating, mean we look forward with confidence to the industry continuing to make an important contribution to the islands’ economy.”
A European Cruise Council study last year on the economic impact of cruising in Europe showed passengers at Lerwick were extremely satisfied with their visits which exceeded expectations and that expenditure by passengers, crews and cruise lines generated more than €1.8 million in Shetland in 2007 when 18,462 passengers arrived at the port.
The welcome for Boudicca’s passengers will include Lerwick’s Viking Jarl squad and Lerwick Brass Band. Nigel Lingard, Marketing Director of vessel owners, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, and her Master, Captain Bjarte Roksund, will each be presented with a hand-crafted pewter Viking longship to mark the ship’s historic visit.
The “meet-and-greet” service for passengers is part-funded and now managed by the Port Authority, with matching funding from the new local destination marketing organisation, Promote Shetland.
Josie Simpson, Chairman, Shetland Islands Council Development Committee, said: "I would like to congratulate Lerwick Port Authority on achieving this fantastic milestone. The port plays a very important part in our efforts to promote Shetland as a tourist destination. For many people, arrival portside in Lerwick presents a first experience of Shetland and therefore the highly positive results from the European Cruise Council study are particularly pleasing.”
Boudicca will be en route from Leith to Bergen, and is scheduled to depart Lerwick at around 6pm on Sunday.
Approximately 25,000 passengers are expected this year – more than double the 1997 figure and around five times the total 20 years ago. Almost 50 cruise ships are due to visit, including the largest yet at over 100,000 gross tonnes each. Depending on size, vessels can either berth close to the town centre, or anchor in sheltered, deep water.
A major dredging project at the port last year created a larger anchorage area, with a clear, minimum water depth of 10 metres, for cruise ships in the inner harbour.
A welcome ashore centre for cruise passengers, marine tourism and other marine-related events is being planned by the Port Authority and due to open on the Esplanade in 2010 as part of the port’s ongoing development.
The Port Authority is a member of the Cruise Scotland organisation, launched earlier this year, and will be participating at the Seatrade Europe exhibition and conference in Hamburg, Germany, from 15-17 September.