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Marine / Cruise company schedules summer stop-offs in Lerwick

Lerwick Port Authority says there have been an ‘encouraging number of enquiries’ for calls this season, and that it is working with the authorities on safety measures

Lerwick Harbour’s Mair’s Pier provides additional berthing capacity for mid-sized cruise ships. Photo: Calum Toogood/Lerwick Port Authority.There was an increasing number of cruise ship calls to Lerwick before the pandemic. Photo: Calum Toogood/Lerwick Port Authority.

SOME cruise ship holidays which include stop-offs at Shetland this summer are now on sale – with Lerwick Port Authority saying there have been an “encouraging number of enquiries” for calls this season.

Fred Olsen includes Lerwick as a stop-off in some of its ‘Welcome Back’ range of cruises, with its Touring Scenic Orkney and Shetland trip for example due to have a day visit to the town on 25 July and 26 August.

The company is also offering non-stop scenic cruises which will travel to Sumburgh Head and Fair Isle but not actually visit land.

The burgeoning cruise sector was effectively wiped out in 2020 due to the pandemic, with a liner last visiting Lerwick over a year ago on 13 March amid some concern from the community.

The Covid vaccine is being factored into some cruise companies’ policy for future bookings.

P&O Cruises for instance is offering some UK coastal trips this year for guests who have had two doses of the Covid vaccine, while pre-embarkation tests may also be required.

While Fred Olsen confirmed testing for its sailings will be required, on the subject of jabs it said: “By the time our Welcome Back cruises start sailing in July, we know that a large proportion of adults in the UK will have received one or both of their vaccinations.

“The vaccine is great news for all of us, but we believe it must be considered as part of a multi-layered approach.

“The government’s ‘Global Travel Taskforce’ is expected to deliver an update on the 12 April 2021.

“We are awaiting further guidance from this update (and any updates from the governments of the destinations we’ll be visiting) before we confirm any final requirements with our guests.”

Fred Olsen said its Welcome Back cruises will be for UK residents only in line with government guidance.

All guests will be provided with a wearable device at embarkation which will help with track and trace should anyone test positive for Covid during a cruise.

Lerwick Port Authority’s cruise manager Melanie Henderson said while there have been an encouraging number of enquiries for calls this season, “in the circumstances we await confirmation of those itineraries being firmed up”.

“We are working with the lines looking to include Lerwick in their sailing plans and with relevant authorities to make sure the necessary safety measures are in place at sea and ashore for when the government decide it is safe for cruising to resume,” she said.

“We have no projected date at this time.”

Meanwhile a meeting of Shetland’s external transport forum on Thursday heard that airline Loganair will soon be promoting the isles as a staycation destination once restrictions allow in a bid to encourage visitors back to Shetland when the time is right.

VisitScotland’s Steve Mathieson also said the tourism organisation was planning its own campaign.