Bookings positive into next decade at Shetland port
Another record-breaking cruise season is underway at Lerwick Harbour, with a number of new initiatives underpinning the famous Shetland welcome awaiting the thousands of passengers scheduled to visit over the next eight months.
The first arrival of 2019, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Astoria,berthed today (Wednesday 20 March) en route between Torshavn, Faroe, and Kirkwall, Orkney, on her return to Poole, England, from an Iceland & Northern Lights cruise. She will visit twice more this season.
There are 112 ships booked to call at Lerwick by end-of-season on 1 October, an 18% increase on the 2018 record. A higher percentage of small to mid-sized ships means passengers’ numbers will be similar to last year when over 90,000 arrived.
The 12 maiden calls will include Cunard’s Queen Victoria, Pullmantur’s Zenith and MSC Cruises’ MSC Preziosa, the largest vessel to visit this year, at 139,072 gross tonnes and capacity for over 3,500 passengers.
“The continuing increase in activity is giving added impetus to the welcome for passengers and crews throughout Shetland,” said Lerwick Port Authority Cruise Manager, Melanie Henderson.“We’ve stepped up a gear this year, with an expanded onshore programme of things to see-and-do and sessions further developing the islands’ service sector, all adding to Shetland’s reputation as one of Scotland’s top destinations.
“New experiences and tour offerings for 2019 include ‘meet the maker’ opportunities with local food and arts & crafts producers; the chance to get "up close and personal" with our friendly Shetland ponies, as well as golf; garden explorations and tours of film locations seen in the popular ‘Shetland’ TV crime series.”
To help Shetland businesses maximise opportunities in the cruise sector, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in partnership with Lerwick Port Authority, Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland, held a two-day workshop to increase local awareness of the opportunities to work with the cruise sector and encourage development of products and services. As a result, there a number of local businesses working through action plans to deliver new tourism experiences.
Reflecting the importance of the sector, Ms Henderson was appointed the Port Authority’s first designated Cruise Manager late 2018. An employee since 2007, she continues in a combined role looking after the Authority’s cruise business and marketing efforts.
The Port Authority’s promotional programme includes support for the Cruise Scotland marketing organisation and participation at various international cruise trade events throughout the year, including Seatrade Cruise Europe in Hamburg in September. With 98 ships scheduled for 2020 and 32 already booked for 2021, advance bookings continue to show positive signs of growth.