2013 programme ends on a positive note.

A record number of cruise ships are already booked to visit Lerwick Harbour in 2014, with vessels also lined-up to call at the Shetland port the following year.

The positive outlook is revealed by Lerwick Port Authority in the week when the 2013 season ends and the Authority, as a member of Cruise Scotland, is attending an industry exhibition in Germany.

This year’s final calls are by Fram today (Sunday 22 September), en route from Torshavn, Faroe, to Stornoway, Scotland, and a maiden visit by Norwegian Star tomorrow, arriving from Alesund, Norway, before sailing to Torshavn. They will bring the season totals to 39 vessels and approximately 26,000 passengers.

Ships calling this season included a fourth visit by Costa Pacifica, at 114,288 gross tonnes the largest yet to call and due to return again in June 2014.

Lerwick Port Authority Deputy Chief Executive, Victor Sandison, said: ”We are confident that this season’s reduced activity was due to a one-off combination of various operational reasons, outwith our control or influence, leading to cancellations.”

Factors affecting a number of operators included one going out of business, ship deployment and operational reasons, including bad weather.

He added: ”The 12 maiden calls this year were an encouraging sign, and the record level of advance bookings for 2014, plus those for 2015, is very positive and highlights the popularity of Shetland’s many attractions.”

There are currently 55 ships, including seven maiden calls, booked for next year, bringing an estimated 47,000 passengers, passing the 2012 records of 52 ships and 37,572 passengers. There are also 13 vessels already booked for 2015.

As part of its ongoing marketing programme, the Port Authority will be participating on the Cruise Scotland stand (No.411) at the Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention in Hamburg from 24 to 26 September.

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