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

Orkney welcomes first cruise ship of the season

Orkney has welcomed its first cruise ship of the season today (Wednesday March 18).

Marco Polo called into Kirkwall on its way from Tilbury in Essex to Torshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands.

The ship’s visit kicks off a record-breaking cruise season for Orkney, with 83 cruise ships set to visit Orkney between now and 4 October – an increase of four on last year’s bookings.

The Cruise and Maritime Voyages vessel, which is also celebrating its 50th birthday this year, will call into Orkney a further six times throughout the summer.

It’s not the only vessel booked to make repeat appearances - 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. Royal Princess, launched in September 2013 by the Duchess of Cambridge, is the world’s sixth largest passenger vessel and will call twice in the 2015 season.

Seven other liners will be making debut visits to Orkney. These include Disney Magic from Disney Cruise lines, which will be visiting the UK for the first time – with Kirkwall her only port of call, the new P&O luxury vessel Britannia will arrive in Kirkwall as part of her British Isles maiden cruise voyage.

Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor James Stockan, says the bumper bookings and repeat visits are testament to the quality tourist experience offered by Orkney – which is currently the most popular cruise ship destination in the UK:

“We put in a lot of pre-planning to make sure passengers experience true island hospitality as soon as they disembark, and leave the county with a real desire to return.”