Today, the first cruise ship to visit Scotland since early 2020 is scheduled to dock in Lerwick Harbour.
The Scottish government has lifted its Covid-19-related ban, allowing cruise ships on UK-only sailings to reopen Scottish ports today 19th July.
Domestic return voyages from English ports have been operating since mid-May, and when the Scottish ban went into effect last month, cruise lines were forced to quickly change itineraries.
The MS Island Sky of Noble Caledonia will dock in Lerwick, Shetland, with 66 passengers – half the vessel’s capacity.
The journey is a circumnavigation of the United Kingdom, stopping at remote locations before and after Lerwick.
Noble Caledonia’s head of fleet operations, Mike Deegan, stated: “We are delighted to be re-affirming our strong connections with our friends in Scotland, a country we have visited regularly over the last 30 years.
“Our strict Covid-safe protocols, both on board and ashore, will ensure we shall visit with safety of local communities and those onboard paramount.”
Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive Captain Calum Grains added: “We’ve been working through the many steps required with all interested parties to ensure that Covid measures are in place to protect everyone involved during cruise ship visits.
“These measures meet official requirements and complement the comprehensive steps taken by cruise operators which set some of the highest standards seen in the tourism industry.”
Passengers arriving at Lerwick in the initial restart phase are likely to travel in “bubbles” of up to 15.
VisitScotland’s Shetland Islands manager, Steve Matheson, commented: “The news the Scottish government is allowing resumption of domestic cruise visits to Scottish ports is a major boost for the industry and it’s great that Shetland will be one of the first to benefit.
“The return of passengers will be a welcome financial boost for bus operators, tour guides, attractions and retailers.”
Lerwick only had two cruise ship visits in 2020 – both in February – ahead of the industry’s voluntary suspension of visits in what was expected to be another record year for the port, with around 100 calls.
Cruise ships can visit Lerwick until October, according to Grains, and there are strong bookings for 2022 and 2023.
Book by: Oct 31st 2021
Book by: Oct 31st 2021
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