Significant increase to contribute to Shetland economy.
A record-breaking cruise season in prospect at Lerwick Harbour this year could generate almost £1.3 million for the Shetland economy from passenger spending alone during the summer months.
Currently, 59 cruise ships with an estimated 36,500 passengers on board – both new records – are booked to visit the islands’ principal port from mid-April to late-September. There will be multiple visits on some dates, including four vessels due on 29 July, the peak month when 20 are expected.
With vessel numbers topping the previous highest figure by almost a fifth, the tonnage of shipping is also set to reach a new record at 1,685,216 gross tonnes.
Victor Sandison, Lerwick Port Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Shetland is winning its share in a growth industry and the momentum is being maintained, bringing a potentially significant increase this year. The natural advantages of our location, scenery and wildlife are reinforced by modern port facilities, the friendly welcome, popular visitor attractions and active marketing.”
The Port Authority is continuing its support for a Meet & Greet project with locals providing both an onboard and onshore welcome for passengers and crew, basic orientation - including leaflets and maps - and traditional Shetland music on the quayside on arrival. This service also provides a free shuttle bus service to-and-from the town centre for ships berthed at the port’s Holmsgarth facility.
This year, the Port Authority will again be exhibiting at Cruise Shipping Miami on the Cruise Scotland stand - booth 723 - from 12-15 March. Cruise Scotland will also have a first time presence at the Seatrade Med Cruise and Superyacht Convention, from 27-29 November in Marseille, France, where it will seek to raise awareness and engage with cruise lines which source passengers from southern Europe, seen as a potential target for future growth at Scottish ports.
The season begins on 17 April with the arrival of the Norwegian vessel, Gann, which will make a return visit in July. There will be two visits – on 16 June and 2 July - by Costa Pacifica which last year became the largest ship (114,288 gross tonnes) yet to visit the deep-water port.
A welcome return to Lerwick will be made by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd with their vessels Jewel of the Seas (90,090 gross tonnes), on 25 June, and Brilliance of the Seas (90,090 gross tonnes) on 10 September – the first by the operator since 1998. Smyril Line’s ro/ro passenger ferry, Norrona - previously a regular caller at Lerwick as an international ferry - will return for a cruise call on 9 May.
There are ten maiden calls during the season, which ends with a return call by Fram on 22 September, en route from Faroe to Orkney.
Victor Sandison added: “As well as promising nine more cruise ships and around 6,000 more passengers than last year, the season is an exciting mix of return visits and maiden calls, and it is great to see Royal Caribbean including Lerwick in its itineraries again. With inclusion on cruises ranging from North-west Europe routes to trans-Atlantic voyages, the season demonstrates Shetland’s growing popularity as a port-of-call in a spread of cruise packages.”