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Cruise ship tourists set to almost double

Lerwick Harbour’s Mair’s Pier provides additional berthing capacity for mid-sized cruise ships. Photo: Calum Toogood/Lerwick Port Authority.
An archive image of cruise ship passengers in Lerwick. Photo: Calum Toogood/Lerwick Port Authority.

THE ARRIVAL of the cruise ship Magellan in Lerwick Harbour this week will launch a record-breaking visiting season expected to see passenger numbers almost double.

Lerwick Port Authority said it expected approaching 92,000 passengers, a rise of some 81 per cent on last year’s record of 50,768.

In all 91 cruise ships are expected in the next eight months, with the most passengers yet on a single vessel when MSC Maraviglia visits at 4,500, plus over 1,500 crew. She will also be the largest cruise ship yet at 171,598 gross tonnes.

The overall tonnage of cruise ships is set to rise by 83 per cent to some 3.9 million gross tonnes.

LPA senior commercial executive Victor Sandison said: “The scale of cruise activity this year will make it a great season for Lerwick and Shetland, including an expanded excursion programme in recognition of the higher passenger numbers.”

Vikings from Lerwick’s Jarl Squad create a lasting impression on passengers and crew from MV Columbus during her maiden call at Lerwick Harbour. Photo: Lerwick Port Authority.

CMV’s Magallan is due to arrive tomorrow (Tuesday) from Reykjavik, Iceland, as part of a 12-night “land of the Northern Lights” cruise that began in London and will head to Kirkwall.

The final call of the year will be CMV’s Marco Polo on Thursday 11 October, arriving from Torshavn, Faroe, on a nine-night “Scottish highlights and Faroe” cruise.

July and August will be the busiest months, with 26 and 22 calls respectively, in a season that will see 11 maiden visits.

In response to the increasing number of passengers, local shore excursion specialists Island Vista has added new experiences to its programmes, including a “sound of Shetland” excursion treating visitors to a showcase of Shetland’s fantastic musical heritage in Mareel’s waterfront auditorium.

Sandison added: “The outlook continues to be positive. We are currently anticipating over 107,000 passengers in 2019, with 109 ships already booked and more anticipated. Our hopes for futher ahead have been encouraged by this month’s participation at Seatrade Cruise Global Expo as a member of Cruise Scotland.”

The 4.6 milllion gross tonnes of shipping lined up for 2019 include 13 vessels on maiden voyages.