Lerwick Harbour is set to rewrite the port’s record book, with the largest cruise ship yet scheduled to visit the Shetland Islands port later this year – and the record already due to be broken twice in the 2009 season.
The 295 metre long, 93,502 gross tonnes Norwegian Jewel will arrive at Lerwick on 19 September and is expected to have up to 2,300 passengers on board for what will be the final call of the port’s 2008 programme.
She will be one of six cruise ships on maiden visits to Lerwick this year – among the others are the Costa Victoria on 11 July (75,166 gross tonnes) and Boudicca (28,372 gross tonnes) on 26 July.
With 43 ships currently heading for the port, it will welcome more than 20,000 cruise passengers between early-May and mid-September,
This season will also see the 80th anniversary of the first visit by a cruise ship recorded in the port’s records - on 17 July, 1928, when the 675 ton Mira arrived from Kirkwall, Orkney, with 112 passengers on board to tour Shetland before sailing later that day for Faroe and Iceland.
Advance bookings for next year mean that the record for the largest cruise vessel will be broken twice. Firstly by the 102,587 gross tonnes Costa Magica on 16 July, 2009, and then by the Crown Princess (113,651 gross tonnes) on 9 September. The port could achieve its highest annual tonnage of cruise ships yet in a year which will also see the 1,000th call by cruise ships.
Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “Bookings for this year and next are very encouraging, as is the fact that we are continuing to attract new and larger vessels.
“The Port Authority is actively marketing the harbour’s modern facilities – including deep-water anchorages, improved tender transfer, and berthing in the town centre - along with the islands’ many attractions.”
The Authority is participating in the 2008 Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention, in Miami from 10-13 March when a new DVD on Shetland’s attractions for cruise passengers will be launched. Its use as a marketing tool will include distribution to cruise operators and being shown onboard vessels ahead of arrival at Lerwick.
At 60 degrees north, the islands are famous for their Scandinavian and Scottish heritage, seabird colonies, marine life, beaches and cliffs. The Shetland Museum and Archives opened on Lerwick’s waterfront last year, with the fantastic new attraction including a three-storey high hall housing hanging boats, a boat shed for building and repairs, and thousands of artefacts.