Rebuilding activity continues
Lerwick Harbour will reach the mid-point of a shortened 2021 cruise season next week with the arrival of three of the largest vessels yet since the lifting last month of the pandemic-related ban on visits to Scottish ports.
Nine ships have called since Lerwick became the first to welcome passengers on 19 July, the day the Scottish Government eased restrictions on domestic cruises after the 17-month ban.
With ten more booked, the next to anchor in the inner harbour will be TUI UK-operated Marella Explorer 2, on Tuesday 24 August, her second visit of the season.
On Thursday (26 August), the 238-metre, 62,735 gross tonne Bolette, new to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, will anchor in the inner harbour. On the same day, Saga’s 236-metre, 58,119 gross tonne Spirit of Adventure, will berth at Mair’s Pier East on a maiden call.
All three vessels are on home-water cruises around Britain, with UK-only passengers. While Covid-19 restrictions on the number of passengers have been removed, international sailings are not yet permitted at Scottish ports.
The industry requirement for shore excursion “bubbles”, initially in place since the restart, has now also been relaxed. Some cruise lines visiting Lerwick, including Marella Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Noble Caledonia will be allowing passengers and crew members to disembark for free time ashore.
Lerwick Port Authority Cruise & Marketing Manager, Melanie Henderson, commented: “All the hard work, planning and preparation by everyone is paying off, with the reduced season going smoothly. Local businesses and the Shetland community have played their part to help prepare for what will hopefully be a full season next year and increasing input to the economy.”
Emma Miller, of Living Lerwick said: “As we continue with the recovery from Covid, retail and hospitality businesses in the town centre have been glad to welcome back local and visiting customers. Cruise passengers are normally a significant addition to the footfall of the town centre in the summer months and it will be a further welcome boost to businesses to see these passengers come ashore to enjoy what our town centre has to offer.”
The season at Lerwick will close on 22 September with a maiden visit by Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavour.