IT’S quite far down the list of exotic cruise destinations - in fact, no cruise ship has ever docked at this town before - but Stonehaven could be set to welcome seafaring holidaymakers.
With its town road train, the UK’s best chippy and an outdoor swimming pool, the iconic North-east town is gearing up to see cruise liners anchoring in its harbour.
Stonehaven Town Partnership has outlined grass root proposals which are still being developed, but John Robson trustee of STP, hopes it can become a reality by 2017.
He said: “The proposal is in the very early stages and we are still working on ideas.
“But with between 500, and 1,000 visitors, businesses would obviously benefit greatly.”
The first step in making the plan a reality would be to create brochures to attract cruise ship operators to Stonehaven.
Mr Robson, who is working alongside fellow trustee, Bill Allan said: “We are looking at various funding avenues for the brochure, which includes Aberdeenshire Council and Visit Scotland.
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“It would feature photographs of the area and we are also sending letters to companies to see what interest there is.”
Mr Robson said alterations would be required to the harbour if plans were to go ahead.
He said: “Cruise ships can’t enter Stonehaven Harbour, so will anchor in the bay and tender passengers to the harbour.
“We are trying to find a suitable location to install a pontoon.
“If we find it, the pontoon will be connected to a ramp, so both foot and wheeled access is available.”
The work is expected to cost £15,000.
Mr Robson added: “This will be recovered quickly from excursion profits.”
STP also hopes to arrange coach tours with potential stop off locations including Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, Dunottar Castle and Donald Trump’s golf course.
Passengers visiting the town from the cruise ships would be given maps listing prominent features, including coffee shops, hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Mr Robson said: “It would be nice to see a street market of some kind arranged on the foreshore for cruise day.
“There could be a walking tours of Stonehaven with a local person giving a history talk along the way.”
Stonehaven originally grew around an Iron Age fishing village, now known as the “old town”, and has expanded inland from the seaside.
The town is served by Stonehaven Railway Station and lies just to the east of the A90 road.
Within the town lies Bays Fish and Chips, who were the winners of the 2013 Fish and Chip Awards.
On the outskirts is Dunnottar Castle, perched on top of a rocky outcrop, where the Scottish crown jewels were hidden during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
In 1296, King Edward I of England took the castle only for William Wallace to reclaim it in 1297, burning down the town’s church in the process with the entire English garrison still in it.
In 1650, Oliver Cromwell defeated the castle to find the crown jewels following an eight-month siege.
However, just before the castle fell, the Crown Jewels were smuggled out by some ladies who took them by boat to a small church just down the coast in the village of Kinneff, where they remained undetected for eleven years.
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