LERWICK Port Authority is looking ahead to more record-breaking cruise activity next year as the 2017 season comes to a close.
The Norwegian Jade today (27 September) became the final cruise ship of the season to dock in Lerwick, with the vessel the 70th to call at the port since April.
A record 50,768 cruise passengers came to Lerwick throughout the season – a modest increase of 45 on 2016 – while the total gross tonnage of 2,146,061 was down slightly compared to last year.
Around ten per cent of planned cruise visits were called off due to poor weather or itinerary changes, meaning that overall passenger numbers were 20 per cent less than initially planned as number of larger vessels were affected.
The port authority plans to deepen the approach channel and the berth at the newly opened Mair’s Pier in 2018 to provide alongside-berthing for vessels which currently need to anchor – meaning that weather disruption for these ships should be reduced.
Things, however, look rosy for next year, with an estimated 3.9 million gross tonnes of cruise ships are expected, including the the record-breaking 316-metre MSC Meraviglia in July – which will bring with her 5,300 passengers and 2,000 crew.
Eighty seven ships are currently booked to arrive between March and October, with July set to see 27 call at Lerwick and August due to have 22.
There are also 14 planned calls by Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Sun, Viking Sea, Viking Sky and Viking Star ships.
Lerwick Port Authority’s senior commercial executive Victor Sandison said on the whole 2017 has been a positive year for cruise calls.
“It’s been another great season, with record passenger numbers and other records narrowly missed because of poor weather disrupting a few arrivals,” he said.
“The significantly higher bookings for 2018 hopefully have enough margin to allow a few weather-related cancellations or itinerary-changes and still achieve record traffic, with over 90,000 passengers expected.”