A record number of cruise ship passengers are expected to visit Scotland this year, bringing a multi-million pound boost to the country’s economy.
The cruise industry is setting sail for another record season following the best year yet in 2014 at ports around the country.
It is estimated that the market was worth more than £49 million last year when 457 vessels brought 401,325 passengers.
A number of ports broke their own records as passengers increased by nearly 16,700 on 2013.
Although approximately the same number of ships are booked in 2015, the continuing trend to larger vessels is expected to see passengers rise by over 8% to an estimated 434,530.
Victor Sandison, chairman of marketing organisation Cruise Scotland, said: “The combination of the multitude of Scotland’s attractions and the quality of facilities and services, supported by our marketing efforts, are delivering results and making a major contribution to the Scottish economy, as last year’s records and this season’s positive outlook demonstrate.”
The growing appeal of Scotland as a destination means the season has extended and will run from March to mid-December, with the final call by Fred Olsen Lines’ Black Watch at Greenock on 15 December to disembark passengers.
Cruise Scotland members are preparing to return to the USA for the global industry’s premier annual event, Cruise Shipping Miami, from 16-19 March.
Highlights of Scotland’s season include Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic calling in July at a UK port for the first time. Kirkwall, Orkney, is its only UK destination on a cruise including Norway and Iceland.
Meanwhile, Greenock Ocean Terminal will become the first Scottish port to welcome over 100,000 passengers in its busiest season yet.
There will also be the first direct sailing from Scotland to the Caribbean, with Fred Olsen Lines’ Black Watch departing Greenock in November on a 32-day round-trip.
Queen Mary 2 will, meanwhile, make a maiden call to Oban on a cruise to celebrate Cunard Line’s 175th anniversary.
Cruise Scotland’s ongoing marketing initiatives also include exhibiting at Seatrade Europe, in Hamburg, from 9-11 September.
A popular “Find-a-Cruise” page aimed at potential visitors from the USA has also been updated. It lists 37 operators with vessels calling at Scottish ports in 2015 and complements the lines’ own promotions.
Cruise Scotland has 17 full members - including 15 ports and two major ground handlers - and four associate members – the latest to join being Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.
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