Thursday, February 9, 2023 - 09:12 by lerwick
A combination of repeat visits and maiden calls at Lerwick Harbour will contribute to what is expected to the busiest cruise season yet at the Shetland port in 2023.
There are currently 145 ships booked to call, representing around 6.5M gross tonnes of shipping – a record in terms of numbers and tonnages – with the first, National Geographic Explorer, due on Thursday 2 March.
Melanie Henderson, Lerwick Port Authority Cruise Manager, said: “Not only are we continuing to make a strong comeback above pre-Covid-19 levels, but the number of repeat visits and the first-time arrivals reflect the popularity of Lerwick and Shetland as a destination which helps support the island’s important tourism network.”
With vessel itineraries subject to change as the season develops, it is estimated over 100,000 passengers will arrive at Lerwick before the final vessel, AIDAluna, arrives on Wednesday 11 October.
This season’s cruise list shows the port is fast becoming a destination-of-choice for repeat visits by cruise lines, including AIDA Cruises (16 calls), Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (9 calls), Ponant Cruises (12 calls) and Viking Ocean Cruises (19 calls) amongst the highest this year.
This year will see 21 maiden calls, with inaugural seasons for new build ships SH Diana and Scenic Eclipse II. Swan Hellenic, Scenic and MSC's Explora Journeys are amongst the new cruise brands visiting this season. Ambition, which is being introduced this season, is the second vessel for British-based Ambassador Cruise Line.
The largest ship will be Norwegian Cruise Lines, Norwegian Getaway at 145,655 gross tonnes, due on Saturday 23 September.
A bonus for visitors in late July will be the spectacle of sailing vessels participating in the international Tall Ships Races and the lively atmosphere in the town centre. Six cruise ships will call during the event (26-29 July), with three in a single day.
The Port Authority's cruise list can be viewed at https://www.lerwick-harbour.co.uk/sectors/cruise/2023