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Busy cruise ship season comes to an end

THIS year’s record-breaking cruise ship season has ended early after today’s (Thursday) visit of the Marco Polo was cancelled due to weather.

The Meraviglia in Lerwick this summer. Photo: LPAThe Meraviglia in Lerwick this summer. Photo: LPA

The season saw 91 cruise ships call at Lerwick, bringing 90,336 passengers to the isles.

Lerwick Port Authority said the passenger figure was an increase of around 78 per cent on last year.

But there are already more vessels booked in for 2019, with 115 ships in the schedule so far – including Cunard’s Queen Victoria.

Passenger numbers for next year are already sitting at 92,000, and there will be at least 12 maiden calls.

Lerwick Port Authority said that with vessel sizes increasing, its future plans include possible dredging to increase capacity, as well as a long-term desire to create a new deep-water berth in the town centre for cruise liners.

Senior commercial executive Victor Sandison said: “A great team effort by everyone involved in Shetland has meant another very successful cruise season and helped ensure we are on even more itineraries in 2019. Local providers have risen to the challenge of servicing the extra demands.

“In a rapidly expanding global market, with another 90 vessels on order over the next five years, there is increasing requirement for special places to visit and the growing popularity of Shetland and its many attractions as a top destination augurs well for the future.”

Tonnage for the 2018 season was a record-breaking 3,837,998 gross tonnes.

The 171,598 gross tonne MSC Meraviglia became the largest cruise ship to ever visit Lerwick in July, bringing over 5,000 passengers and around 1,500 crew.

On the same day Hapag Lloyd’s Europa was in town, meaning that there was a total of 7,500 passengers and crew in Lerwick.