…and 2016 should rewrite port’s record books.

Lerwick Harbour’s cruise season launches at the double this week, with the arrival of the first two vessels of the year on Wednesday (18 March), bringing 1,850 passengers to Shetland.

En route from Andalnes, Norway, to Torshavn, Faroe, Saga Sapphire will anchor in the deep-water port while on a 12-nights Nordic Eclipse cruise, and Magellan will also anchor on her way from Invergordon, Scotland, to Reykjavik, Iceland, on a 12-nights Solar Eclipse maiden cruise. The vessels are 200 and 222 metres long, respectively.

There are 48 arrivals – including six maiden visits - currently scheduled by end-of-season on 10 September, with a cumulative gross tonnage of 1,446,291 tonnes and bringing an estimated at 34,330 passengers.

May and June will be the busiest months, with 11 and 12 calls respectively. There will be two vessels on six days during the summer and three on a single day in May.

“Fewer large vessels this year mean no new records, but, encouragingly, both 2015 and 2016 programmes include return visits and first-time calls and advance bookings for next season are already very positive, with the real potential to be a record-breaker” commented Captain Calum Grains, Lerwick Port Authority Harbourmaster and Deputy Chief Executive.

Current bookings for 2016 so far add up to a record 51,950 passengers, with the 50 ships a record-breaking cumulative tonnage of 2,113,009 gross tonnes.

The record held by Costa Pacifica (114,288 gross tonnes) as the largest cruise ship yet to visit Lerwick should be broken three times - by Azura (115,055 gross tonnes) on 30 June; Celebrity Silhouette (122,210 gross tonnes) on 14 August; and Royal Princess (142,714 gross tonnes) on 11 September.

The positive outlook is revealed in the week when the Port Authority, as part of its ongoing marketing programme, is participating on the Cruise Scotland booth (547) at the industry’s premier event, Cruise Shipping Miami, from 16 to 19 March.

Support continues for a successful Meet & Greet project at Lerwick featuring local greeters who provide a warm welcome to passengers and crew, basic orientation and traditional Shetland music on the quayside on arrival, as well a free shuttle bus service to-and-from the town centre for passengers berthed at the port’s Holmsgarth quay.

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