Lerwick is set for a cruise season to celebrate, with the Shetland port on course to achieve a number of special milestones this summer.
It will welcome its 1,000th cruise ship, as well as the first grossing more than 100,000 tonnes. Passenger numbers are expected to reach record levels, with around 26,000 arriving.
In what will be another busy year for the harbour, it is also looking forward to 2010, with 13 bookings already for large vessels, including a number of maiden visits.
Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, said: “This promises to be another great cruise season for Lerwick and Shetland, with the port’s modern facilities and services and the islands’ many attractions – and famous warm welcome – encouraging first-time callers and larger ships, as well as repeat visits.”
A total of 45 cruise ships, adding up to over a million gross tonnes and including 11 maiden calls, are scheduled to visit Lerwick in a season extending from mid-May to late-September, with the 1000th ship in July.
The 273-metre 102,587 gross tonnes Costa Magica will set a new size record for the port in July when she pays the first of two visits. The Crown Princess, at 113,651 gross tonnes and 289 metres, will then rewrite Lerwick’s record books in September when she arrives on a transatlantic repositioning cruise.
For islands with strong connections with their neighbour, Norway, the cruise season will bring another highlight. The Fram will overnight in the port, with her Norwegian crew celebrating part of their national day there on 17 May.
At the crossroads of the North Sea and Atlantic, Lerwick is the gateway for cruise passengers to islands famous for their Scandinavian and Scottish heritage, seabird colonies, marine life, beaches and cliffs, and locally produced foods and crafts. Vessels can berth right in the heart of the town, while larger ships anchor in the sheltered, deep-water port for passenger transfer.
The Port Authority is participating on the Cruise Europe stand at the 2009 Seatrade Cruise Shipping Exhibition and Conference, in Miami from 16-19 March.
The attached photograph shows the 295 metre long, 93,502 gross tonnes Norwegian Jewel at the port’s inner anchorage during a maiden call to Lerwick in 2008. She will call again in September.
The Port Authority’s official records are continuous from 1924, with the first note of a cruise ship visit dating from 17 July, 1928, when the SS Mira arrived from Bergen and sailed later that day for Faroe. There were earlier cruise ship calls to Lerwick in the latter part of the nineteenth century, but the Authority’s records do not extend that far back.
The man credited with inventing cruising is Arthur Anderson, the co-founder of P & O, who was born in Lerwick. His birthplace, the Bod of Gremista, is now preserved as a museum in his honour.