Another record-breaking cruise season at Lerwick Harbour closed this week – as it was announced that Cunard’s Queen Victoria is scheduled to call next July.
This year saw 91 vessels and an increase of around 78 per cent on 2017. A total of 90,336 passengers welcomed at the port since mid-March, taking its involvement to a new high.
The final scheduled ship of the season, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo, was forced by poor North Sea weather to bypass Lerwick yesterday while en route from Torshavn in Faroe to Kirkwall in Orkney.
Tonnage at Lerwick was also a new high, at 3,837,998 gross tonnes, including 11 maiden calls.
Several new port records featured the MSC Meraviglia in July – the biggest cruise ship yet at Lerwick (171,598 gross tonnes); most passengers (5,092) plus around 1,500 crew; and, along with Hapag Lloyd’s Europa, the busiest day at Lerwick with almost 7,500 passengers and crew.
Lerwick Port Authority senior commercial executive Victor Sandison said: “A great team effort by everyone involved in Shetland has meant another very successful cruise season and helped ensure we are on even more itineraries in 2019. Local providers have risen to the challenge of servicing the extra demands.
“In a rapidly expanding global market, with another 90 vessels on order over the next five years, there is increasing requirement for special places to visit and the growing popularity of Shetland and its many attractions as a top destination augurs well for the future.
“There are 115 vessels, including 12 maiden calls, booked so far for 2019, up 25 per cent on 2018, with passenger numbers approaching 92,000. Highlights will include a call by Cunard’s Queen Victoria in July.”
With vessel sizes increasing, the port authority’s future plans include possible dredging to increase capacity alongside, and a longer-term outlook to create a new deep-water berth in the town centre to be used by cruise ships.