ORKNEY is set for a multi-million pound tourism bonanza with a record-breaking year of cruise liners due to visit.
So far, 83 port calls by liners are expected in the islands – four more than in 2014.
In total, the ships have the capacity to carry more than 80,000 passengers and 25,000 crew.
Last year brought 64,000 passengers, and it is estimated that the cruise ship industry generated around £4 million for the economy of the islands.
Michael Morrison, business development manager for Orkney Islands Council Marine Services, said: “We’re all set for a record-breaking year for cruise ship visits.
“In all, the 83 vessels amount to just over three million gross tonnes of shipping – and more bookings are still expected for 2015. We’re seeing more visits by bigger vessels, resulting in greater overall passenger numbers for Orkney.
“The increase in the size of ships visiting demonstrates the confidence that the industry has in our ability to deliver a first class experience for visiting passengers.
“A big team effort lies behind our cruise business. We pay a great deal of attention to the pre-planning of the cruise season. We try to consider every eventuality that could occur and be ready to react accordingly.
“Orkney remains, despite stiff competition from other developing cruise ports, the most popular cruise ship destination in the United Kingdom.”
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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.
Seven other liners will also 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.
Royal Princess, launched in September 2013 by the Duchess of Cambridge and is the world’s sixth largest passenger vessel, will call twice in the 2015 season, and the new P&O luxury vessel Britannia will arrive in Kirkwall as part of her British Isles maiden cruise voyage.
Mr Morrison added: “We’re delighted with the high level of interest we’re experiencing for the 2015 season.
“Looking ahead, we already have 48 ships booked for 2016 and berthing requests are already under way for the following year as well.”
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