Busy year ahead for Orkney
The number of cruise ships visiting Orkney in 2015 is expected to exceed this year’s total of 79.
The giant MSC Splendida, with over 4,300 passengers on board, will call into Orkney for the first time and make four further visits during 2015. Among other cruise ships that will visit the islands next year is the Queen Elizabeth, which will be helping to mark the 175th anniversary of the shipping line Cunard.
The 2014 cruise season ends on September 23, when the expedition ship Hanseatic will bring just under 200 passengers to Stromness. During 2014, income in the form of harbour dues paid to Orkney Islands Council Marine Services from cruise ship port calls has topped £1 million for the first time. This is an increase of just under 30 per cent on last year’s figure of £790,000.
“The number of cruise ship visits to Orkney has remained pretty steady in recent years,” said Marine Services Business Development Manager Michael Morrison. “But we’re seeing more visits by bigger vessels, resulting in greater overall passenger numbers and a rise in the revenue we receive. “The increase in the size of ships visiting is a good indicator of the level of confidence that the industry has in our ability to deliver a quality experience for visiting passengers and is good news for Orkney’s economy. The around-Britain cruise itinerary is growing in popularity and Orkney is in the perfect location for this voyage. “A big team effort lies behind our cruise business and we’re delighted with the level of interest we’re experiencing for the 2015 season. Sixty six visits by cruise ships are already booked and we expect the final total to exceed 80. Berth reservations are also being received for 2016 and 2017.”
A survey carried out last summer indicated that Orkney’s cruise ship industry generates almost £3.1m for the local economy each year, with each cruise passenger spending on average around £46 while ashore. Other cruise ships expected next year are the Disney Magic – making her first call to a UK port – and P&O Cruises’ Britannia on her first visit to Orkney.