A positive season for the cruise industry at Lerwick Harbour drew to a close this week with the final arrival for 2019 – the 99th cruise ship at the port since March and eight more than the record set in 2018.
Fred Olsen Cruises’ Black Watch, sailing on a 13-night northern Norway scenic islands voyage, berthed at Holmsgarth 5 on Tuesday.
Bookings for 2020 will potentially break three records, with 105 cruise ships scheduled to call, an estimated 92,000 passengers and over four million gross tonnes of shipping.
Thirteen maiden calls will be a highlight, including two newly-launched vessels, Ponant Cruises’ Le Bellot and Saga’s Spirit of Adventure. The 2020 season will include a larger number of mid-sized vessels compared with 2019.
Lerwick Port Authority cruise and marketing manager Melanie Henderson said: “The signs are very positive for growth again next year with an encouraging number of cruise lines scheduling repeat calls in the season and three new cruise lines visiting for the first time – the Carnival, Mystic and TUI.”
Lerwick’s 2019 cruise season had a number of cancellations because of external factors, such as weather en-route and operational changes, with a final passenger count of over 76,200.
Ms Henderson added: “Call-offs to scheduled visits are disappointing for the passengers and everyone involved onshore, particularly when the causes are beyond our control.
“Lerwick and Shetland’s reputation as a must-see destination is as strong as ever, with a number of accolades in 2019 and bookings up to four years ahead.
“The supply and service sector in the islands is making an increasingly important contribution in meeting the industry’s requirements and encouraging operators to return.”