Record number of passengers expected
With the first cruise ship of the season due at Lerwick Harbour later this week, over a month earlier than usual, the port is on course for another record-breaking season.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Discovery will berth on Friday 28 March on a Treasures of the British Isles Cruise. With capacity for 700 passengers, the vessel will make a further 4 calls this year.
With 50 ships currently booked, the tonnage of shipping should reach a new high at almost 1.8 million gross tonnes, beating the previous record of 1,531,097 gross tonnes two years ago.
Passenger numbers are estimated at over 41,000, topping the previous highest figure of 37,572, set in 2012.
The tonnage of shipping reflects the trend to larger vessels. The 114,288 gross tonne Costa Pacifica, the biggest yet to visit Lerwick, will return on 25 June. Other large vessels will include Celebrity Infinity (90,280 gross tonnes) in June and July, and Ruby Princess (113,561 gross tonnes) on 11 September – both on maiden visits.
There will be a total of six first-time callers in a season which runs to late-September, with peak months in June and July, with 12 and 13 arrivals.
Lerwick Port Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive, Victor Sandison, commented: “Repeat visits, maiden calls and strong forward bookings underline the popularity of Shetland with cruise line operators and passengers. The combination of port facilities, warm welcome and numerous attractions has as powerful an appeal as ever.”
Advance bookings for 2015 currently add up to 29 ships, at 1,258,298 gross tonnes, and carrying an estimated 26,540 passengers.
A member of Cruise Scotland, the Port Authority attended Cruise Shipping Miami from 10-13 March and Cruise Scotland will also have a presence at Seatrade Med in Barcelona in September.
It continues to support a “Meet & Greet” project by local greeters who provide an onboard and onshore welcome for passengers and crew, orientation leaflets and maps, and traditional Shetland music on the quayside, as well as a shuttle bus service to-and-from the town centre for passengers on ships berthed at the port’s Holmsgarth facility.