Lerwick Harbour is set for a big finish to the cruise season, with the largest vessel yet due in port tomorrow.
The arrival of the 108,806 grt Grand Princess will round off a record-breaking five months which will also have seen the highest number of passengers yet at around 30,000 and cruise vessels topping the one million tonne mark in a season for the first time, at 1,220,455 gross tonnes.
A total of 48 cruise ships will have visited Lerwick this year, with passenger numbers up from 24,146 in 2009. With around 2,200 passengers the Grand Princess, one of eight on maiden calls to Lerwick this year, will be en route from Bergen, Norway, to Torshavn, Faroe, on a trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise.
Lerwick Port Authority deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “It’s been another milestone cruise season, and not just for the hat trick of new records reflecting increased activity and the valuable contribution to the Shetland economy.
“We have also continued to develop our visitor facilities and the trend to larger vessels continues to be seen in the already high level of bookings for 2011.”
Meanwhile the harbour’s new welcome ashore pavilion was trialed at the weekend with the arrival of Norwegian Sun.
The £85,000 investment by the port authority complements the development of the pontoon system introduced in April 2006 for tendering passengers from anchored ships. The pavilion, on Victoria Pier and immediately adjacent to the landing point, enables over a coach load of passengers to be welcomed at one time.
There are already 44 cruise ships – a total of 1,477,493 gross tonnes – booked for 2011, including two more record breakers, the Crown Princess (113,651grt) due on 7th June and the Costa Pacifica (114,500grt), scheduled for 11th June. Both will be on maiden visits, as will another five of the vessels currently lined up.