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Marine / Port authority ‘steps up a gear’ for cruise season

Lerwick Harbour will enjoy record cruise ship numbers in its 2019 season. Photo: John Coutts

TOURS of locations used in the Shetland crime drama series and ‘meet the maker’ opportunities with local food, arts and crafts producers are among the new experiences on offer for cruise ship passengers visiting in Lerwick.

Lerwick Port Authority’s official cruise season kicked off today (Wednesday) with the arrival of the Astoria, and it will be a record 2019 for the organisation.

The passenger vessel Gann berthed in the town back in February but it was only carrying cadets on a training voyage.

A total of 112 ships are booked to call in at Lerwick by 1 October, which is an 18 per cent increase on last year.

Melanie Henderson was appointed Lerwick Port Authority’s first cruise manager in late 2018 and she said the organisation has “stepped up a gear” this year.

She said this included an “an expanded onshore programme of things to see-and-do and sessions further developing the islands’ service sector, all adding to Shetland’s reputation as one of Scotland’s top destinations”.

“New experiences and tour offerings for 2019 include ‘meet the maker’ opportunities with local food and arts & crafts producers; the chance to get “up close and personal” with our friendly Shetland ponies, as well as golf; garden explorations and tours of film locations seen in the popular ‘Shetland’ TV crime series,” Henderson continued.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in partnership with the port authority, Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland, held a two-day workshop in February to help local businesses maximise opportunities when it came to cruise ship tourism.

This year there will also be 12 maiden calls into Lerwick, including Cunard’s Queen Victoria, Pullmantur’s Zenith and MSC Cruises’ MSC Preziosa.

The latter is the largest vessel to visit this year, weighing in at 139,072 gross tonnes and having a capacity of over 3,500 passengers.

Some days will be busier than others, with Friday 21 June set to see four different cruise ships stop by Lerwick.

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