Lerwick Well Prepared For More Cruise Traffic
by Alastair Hamilton -
Over recent years, Lerwick’s popularity as a cruising port has grown rapidly and the upward trend is expected to continue in 2018 and beyond.
Almost 62,000 cruise passengers are expected this season, up 22% on 2016. There will be an increase of 18.2% in the gross tonnage of shipping to 2,591,975. These figures break previous 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 began in mid-April, with a visit 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; they’ll account for 4,132,710 gross tonnage of shipping; and almost 96,000 passengers, with the increase influenced by more bookings by larger capacity vessels. There are 10 maiden calls booked to date.
Lerwick Harbour is providing additional facilities for the cruise industry. 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.
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.”
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.”
A call at Lerwick has much to offer cruise passengers. Although they’re usually in port for just one day, there’s the opportunity to visit some of Shetland’s highlights, such as the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick, Sumburgh Head, Scalloway’s castle and museum or parts of the west and north of the mainland. Shopping for high-quality local crafts, especially knitwear, is also popular.
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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