Early bookings for 2018 highest yet

Lerwick Harbour is providing additional facilities for the cruise industry which is expected to deliver another two record seasons at the Shetland port, continuing a trend which saw record traffic in 2015 and 2016.

The new £16.5 million multi-purpose jetty at Holmsgarth North, completed in late 2016, is set to be used by a cruise ship for the first time on 12 June when Viking Star berths.

The outside arm of the jetty will be used initially for vessels up to 230 metres in length and Viking ships will be among a number to use Holmsgarth North this summer.

Lerwick Port Authority has commissioned a new unit to be used at the location to provide a focal meet-and-greet station and as an information point for visitors. The towable unit will be a flexible asset to assist the welcoming team with their well-received service.

Victor Sandison. Senior Commercial Executive, Lerwick Port Authority, said: “Holmsgarth North is significant addition to our capacity to welcome cruise ships alongside at a time when the port is attracting more passengers.”

The port is currently expecting almost 62,000 passengers this season, up 22% on 2016, with an increase of 18.2% in the gross tonnage of shipping to 2,591,975 – both new records. The number of ships due is expected to be 76, three fewer than last year, with July and August the busiest months, with 22 and 21 calls respectively.

The season gets underway this week with a visit on Friday (14 April) by AIDA Cruises’ vessel, AIDAVita, on a 13-day Nordic Islands & Norway cruise. The last call is due on Wednesday 27 September by Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade on a transatlantic 11-day “In the Path of Vikings” cruise, arriving from London, en route to New York, via Reykjavik, Iceland.

There will be maiden calls by nine vessels, including Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ new flagship, Columbus on Sunday 9 July.

Three new records are expected in 2018, with 90 ships currently booked – and more expected; 4,132,710 gross tonnage of shipping; and an estimated almost 96,000 passengers, with the increase influenced by more bookings by larger capacity vessels. There are 10 maiden calls booked to date.

Sandison added: “Continuing growth in the international cruise industry, our record bookings and our positive approach to industry requirements, including expanded infrastructure, all augur well for the port and the Shetland tourism sector in the future.”

Continuing marketing by the Port Authority will include participation as a member of Cruise Scotland at Seatrade Europe in Hamburg, Germany from 6 to 8 September 2017.

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