LERWICK Earliest start to the Cruise Season
DOUBLE BOOST FROM VIKING FOR LERWICK'S CRUISE ACTIVITY RECOVERY
Earliest start brings winter cruising prospects
The rebuilding of Lerwick Harbour's important cruise traffic in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions will potentially receive extra impetus next month with the earliest start yet to the annual season.
Swiss-based Viking Cruises has booked five visits with its new-build ship, Viking Venus in the first quarter 2022, starting with its maiden call on Thursday 3 February and due to berth at Mair’s Pier.
Previously, there have been rare industry arrivals in late February and March, with the main season usually beginning in April.
For the second year running, Lerwick will be the first port of call in the Scottish cruise season, after the reopening last July following the 17-month Covid-related suspension.
With accommodation for 900 guests, the 229-metre-long Viking Venus will be undertaking 12-day ‘In Search of Northern Lights’ cruises, departing Tilbury, England, via Lerwick, to Bergen, Norway, taking in that country’s far north regions.
In a second boost, Viking Cruises have booked 20 calls at Lerwick this season, the highest number by a single operator in decades of the Shetland port servicing the sector.
“We see the Viking programme, with its early start and high number of bookings, as a vote of confidence in the harbour and Shetland, including the way the restart was handled through 2021,” said Melanie Henderson, Lerwick Port Authority Cruise & Marketing Manager.
“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.
“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.”
With schedules for this year subject to finalisation, there are currently more than one hundred ships lined up to call at Lerwick, which could mean record numbers of passengers, vessels, and tonnage of shipping.