Dunrobin Castle - ancestral home of the Clan Sutherland
Dunrobin Castle - ancestral home of the Clan Sutherland
Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe
Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe
Scotland is a great place to explore by cycle on trails and coastal paths
Scotland is a great place to explore by cycle on trails and coastal paths
Ardvreck Castle and Loch Assynt in Sutherland, Highlands of Scotland
Ardvreck Castle and Loch Assynt in Sutherland, Highlands of Scotland
The banks of Loch Lomond - Britain's largest stretch of inland water
The banks of Loch Lomond - Britain's largest stretch of inland water
Strathisla Distillery in Keith, Grampian Highlands
Strathisla Distillery in Keith, Grampian Highlands
Portree Harbour, Isle of Skye
Portree Harbour, Isle of Skye
Gleneagles Golf Course
Gleneagles Golf Course
Fantastic rivers and lochs await for you to try your hand at fishing
Fantastic rivers and lochs await for you to try your hand at fishing
Scotland's rich musicial tradition
Scotland's rich musicial tradition
The Northern Isles are home to the world-famous Shetland pony
The Northern Isles are home to the world-famous Shetland pony
Ring of Brodgar in Orkney
Ring of Brodgar in Orkney
Kayaks at North Beach, Little Bernera, Isle of Lewis, Stornoway
Kayaks at North Beach, Little Bernera, Isle of Lewis, Stornoway
Dolphin pond in magnificent mountainside setting of Benmore Botanic Gardens
Dolphin pond in magnificent mountainside setting of Benmore Botanic Gardens
Piper at Castle of Mey in Thurso, Caithness
Piper at Castle of Mey in Thurso, Caithness
Balmoral Castle, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen
Balmoral Castle, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow
Ben Nevis, Fort William
Ben Nevis, Fort William
Oban, Argyll & Bute
Oban, Argyll & Bute
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Early start for cruise season at Lerwick Harbour

With the first cruise ship of the season due at Lerwick Harbour this weekend, over a month earlier than usual, the port is on course for another record-breaking season.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Discovery will berth on Sunday 9 March on the first of three visits this month on special interest voyages between ports in Scotland, England and Norway. With capacity for 700 passengers, the vessel will make a further 5 calls this year.

With 52 ships currently booked, matching the 2012 record, the tonnage of shipping should reach a new high at 1,923,950 gross tonnes, beating the previous record of 1,531,097 gross tonnes two years ago.

Passenger numbers are estimated at 44,725, topping the previous highest figure of 37,572, set in 2012.

The tonnage of shipping reflects the trend to larger vessels. The 114,288 gross tonne Costa Pacifica, the biggest yet to visit Lerwick, will return on 25 June. Other large vessels will include Celebrity Infinity (90,280 gross tonnes) on 9 and 30 June, and Ruby Princess (113,561 gross tonnes) on 11 September – both on maiden visits.

There will be a total of eight first-time callers in a season which runs to late-September, with peak months in June and July, each with 14 arrivals.Cruise & Maritime Voyages "Discovery" pictured during an earlier call at Lerwick

Lerwick Port Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive, Victor Sandison, commented: “Repeat visits, maiden calls and strong forward bookings underline the popularity of Shetland with cruise line operators and passengers. The combination of port facilities, warm welcome and numerous attractions has as powerful an appeal as ever.”

Advance bookings for 2015 currently add up to 31 ships, at 1,587,169 gross tonnes, and carrying an estimated 32,640 passengers.

A member of Cruise Scotland, the Port Authority is attending Cruise Shipping Miami from 10-13 March and will be at Seatrade Med in Barcelona in September.

It continues to support a “Meet & Greet” project by local greeters who provide an onboard and onshore welcome for passengers and crew, orientation leaflets and maps, and traditional Shetland music on the quayside, as well as a shuttle bus service to-and-from the town centre for passengers on ships berthed at the port’s Holmsgarth facility.