Lerwick Harbour will achieve another nautical milestone this weekend, with the arrival of the 1,000th cruise ship since the first was noted in the official records of the port.
The Boudicca will sail into the harbour’s history books at around noon on Sunday with approximately 800 passengers on board.
They will be welcomed by quayside entertainment before being transported ashore to explore some of Shetland’s many attractions.
While cruise ships first visited in the 19th century, before official port records began, the SS Mira was the first noted officially, in July 1928.
Lerwic Port Authority (LPA) chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “Our 1,000th cruise ship highlights not only the increasing popularity of cruising in recent years, but also that of Lerwick as an established port of call on north-west Europe itineraries.
“More than half these arrivals have been since 1997, in a period when we have been actively marketing Lerwick as a gateway.
“Shetland’s warm welcome and many attractions, along with the port’s modern facilities, are a very successful combination. These factors, and the harbour’s capacity to handle the larger cruise ships now operating, mean we look forward with confidence to the industry continuing to make an important contribution to the islands’ economy.”
A European Cruise Council study last year on the economic impact of cruising showed passengers at Lerwick were extremely satisfied with their visits, which exceeded expectations, and that expenditure by passengers, crews and cruise lines generated more than €1.8 million in Shetland in 2007 when 18,462 passengers arrived at the port.
The welcome for Boudicca’s passengers will include Lerwick’s Jarl squad and Lerwick Brass Band. Nigel Lingard, marketing director of vessel owners Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, and her master, captain Bjarte Roksund, will each be presented with a hand-crafted pewter Viking longship to mark the historic visit.
Josie Simpson, chairman of the SIC’s development committee, said: “I would like to congratulate Lerwick Port Authority on achieving this fantastic milestone. The port plays a very important part in our efforts to promote Shetland as a tourist destination. For many people, arrival portside in Lerwick presents a first experience of Shetland.”
Boudicca will be en route from Leith to Bergen, and is scheduled to depart Lerwick at around 6pm on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a welcome ashore centre for cruise passengers, marine tourism and other marine-related events is being planned by LPA and is due to open on the Esplanade in 2010 as part of the port’s ongoing development.