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.”