The Caribbean Princess arrived alongside the newly extended Hatston Pier with more than 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew on board.
On previous visits, the 290-metre cruise ship dropped anchor in Kirkwall Bay, with passengers brought ashore by a procession of boats.
With the construction of the new pier now complete, they could step straight ashore.
Ten shuttle buses operated throughout the day to take around 2,000 of the passengers into nearby Kirkwall, where they thronged the streets, shops and cafes in Orkney’s main town.
The other passengers used a fleet of 25 coaches to visit the main sites of interest on Orkney Mainland.
The newly extended pier can now accommodate the world’s largest liners.
Councillor Jim Foubister, the Council’s Vice Convener, said: “It was extended primarily as a base for the marine renewable energy sector – to support Orkney’s world leading role in the development of wave and tidal technologies.
“The pier is now almost a quarter of a mile long and, as today’s visit by the Caribbean Princess demonstrates so vividly, it will also serve Orkney well as a berth for a variety of vessels, including cruise ships, ferries and those serving the offshore oil and gas industries.”
The giant liner will visit Orkney five times this summer – with an even bigger vessel, the 294-metre MSC Magnifica - also due to tie up at Hatston Pier later this month.
In all, Orkney will receive 76 visits by cruise ships this year. In total, there will be more than 60,000 passengers on board – 20,000 more than last year.
The £8 million project to extend Hatston Pier attracted £3.2 million in support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
It serves as a major support and logistics base strategically located for the tidal energy test site operated by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) off the island of Eday.