Record-breaking cruise season on the cards after earliest ever start

The cruise season is set to get off to its earliest ever start next week with the arrival of Viking Venus.

The 229-metre-long vessel, which has accommodation for 900 guests, is to make her maiden call at Mair’s Pier on Thursday, 3rd February.

Operated by Viking Cruises, she is due to make five visits as part of the “In Search of Northern Lights” series. The 12-day cruises will depart Tilbury, England, and also call at Bergen, Norway.

It means Lerwick Harbour will be the first port of call in the Scottish cruise season for the second year running, following the easing of Covid restrictions last July.

Her arrival also marks the earliest ever start to the season. Although there have previously been rare arrivals in late February and March, the main season does not usually begin until April.

In total, Viking Cruises has booked 20 calls at Lerwick throughout 2022, which is the highest number by a single operator in decades.

And with more than 100 cruise ships lined up from all operators,  Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) is predicting a record number of passengers and vessels this year.

LPA’s cruises and marketing manager Melanie Henderson said it was a “vote of confidence” in the harbour, Shetland and its handling of the restart.

“It gives great encouragement to everyone involved to see the recovery in our overall bookings for 2022 and that activity is on the way back, albeit with some Covid measures still in place, such as shore excursion ‘bubbles’ in the short term,” she added.

“Interest from the industry to develop Scotland’s cruise potential adds to our hopes that February and March sailings can be built into an annual winter cruising itinerary, extending the established window for visits to Lerwick.”


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