Lerwick Harbour is set for another busy tourism season this year, with almost 50 cruise ships and dozens of yachts already lining up to visit the Shetland port.

A total of 49 cruise ships are booked so far, two more than last year and matching the record established in 2003.

The current schedule means the cruise season will begin on 21 March with the arrival of the Norwegian Coastal Voyage vessel, Trollfjord, and continues through to 12 September when the Mona Lisa is due. The largest vessel booked for this season to date is the 77,499 gross tonne Sea Princess which will be in the port on 18 July.

The list also includes the Van Gogh and Athena which will berth at Lerwick to provide accommodation for many of the competitors taking part in the international Island Games from 9-15 July.

Lerwick’s growing popularity as a centre of sailing for yacht crews will see both the North Sea Triangle event from the Netherlands and the Bergen-Shetland Races from Norway returning in late June.

The events will coincide for the first time, with the Dutch yachts in Lerwick from 22-24 June, and competitors in the Bergen-Shetland Races in port from 23-26 June, with each bringing around 40 yachts.

Crews in the North Sea Triangle event have been visiting Lerwick since 1983, while the Bergen-Shetland Race is now in its 18th year.

Lerwick attracts around over 400 yachts annually, with the port’s modern facilities including berths adjacent to the town centre.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Allan Wishart, said: “We see the role as a gateway for the tourism industry as a very important aspect of the port’s activities and are delighted that joint efforts to market the islands’ many visitor attractions continue to be successful.”

Ferry services, operated by NorthLink Orkney & Shetland Ferries from the Scottish mainland and by Smyril Line in the North Atlantic, make the major contribution to passenger traffic at Lerwick which handled a record number of passengers last year.

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