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Marine / Record number of cruise ships scheduled next year

The Island Sky leaving Lerwick earlier this week. Photo: Jim Mullay

A RECORD 112 cruise ship visits to Lerwick are in the schedule for next year, the town’s port authority has said.

It comes after the truncated 2021 season came to an end on Tuesday following the departure of the Island Sky.

The ship, which had 93 passengers on board, was also the first cruise to visit Shetland earlier this year after a 17-month ban on liners arriving into Scottish ports.

This year’s season should have closed today (Wednesday) with the arrival of Crystal Endeavour on her maiden visit, but the call was cancelled at short notice by the operator due to adverse weather conditions en route.

Lerwick Port Authority’s cruise and marketing manager Melanie Henderson said: “The return of Island Sky concludes the successful, initial phase of rebuilding cruise traffic at Lerwick in the wake of Covid.

“It is disappointing to have the season cut even shorter at the last minute, but we look forward to welcoming Crystal Endeavour in the future.

“We have seen six maiden visits, repeat calls and operators new to the port, with the smooth restoration giving confidence for more activity next year and getting back to more normal levels.”

This year saw over 685,000 gross tonnes of cruise shipping and around 8,600 passengers travel to Lerwick.

The vessel count was less than a fifth of what was originally scheduled.

Henderson said, however, that the reintroduction of cruises provided a boost to the local tourism sector.

For 2022 over four million gross tonnes of shipping is scheduled.

But the port authority said changes can be anticipated as cruise lines firm up their itineraries around the “evolving global situation and easing of restrictions”.