First cruise ship due on Sunday
The first cruise ship of the season is due in Lerwick this weekend, over a month earlier than usual.
The Discovery is expected to berth on Sunday for the first of three visits this month on special interest voyages between ports in Scotland, England and Norway. With capacity for 700 passengers, she is due to make a further five visits this year.
Lerwick Harbour is on course for another record-breaking season. With 52 ships booked, matching the 2012 record, the tonnage is expected to reach a new high at 1,923,950grt, beating the previous record of 1,531,097 two years ago.
Passenger numbers are estimated at 44,725, topping the previous highest figure of 37,572 set in 2012.
The tonnage of shipping reflects the trend towards larger vessels. The 114,288grt Costa Pacifica, the biggest yet to visit Lerwick, is due to return on 25th June.
Other large vessels will include the 90,280grt Celebrity Infinity (due on 9th and 30th June) and the 113,561grt Ruby Princess (due on 11th September), both on maiden visits.
There will be a total of eight first-time callers in a season which runs to late September, with peak months in June and July, each with 14 arrivals.
Lerwick Port Authority deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “Repeat visits, maiden calls and strong forward bookings underline the popularity of Shetland with cruise line operators and passengers.
“The combination of port facilities, warm welcome and numerous attractions has as powerful an appeal as ever.”
Meanwhile advance bookings for 2015 currently add up to 31 ships, at 1,587,169grt and carrying an estimated 32,640 passengers.
A member of Cruise Scotland, the port authority is attending Cruise Shipping Miami from 10th to 13th March and will be at Seatrade Med in Barcelona in September.
The port authority continues to support a “meet and greet” project by local greeters who provide an onboard and onshore welcome for passengers and crew, orientation leaflets and maps, and traditional Shetland music on the quayside, as well as a shuttle bus service to and from the town centre for passengers on ships berthed at Holmsgarth.