The Port Authority is making preparations to deepen the approach channel and the berth at Mair’s Pier (Image: Port of Lerwick)
Lerwick Harbour in Shetland is planning improvements for the 2018 cruise season, which it expects to be its busiest yet.
The port authority is making preparations to deepen the approach channel and the berth at Mair’s Pier, which will provide alongside berthing for vessels that currently need to anchor in the harbour and then transfer passengers by tender. Lerwick has started work on obtaining consent to dredge the approach channel and berth, and hopes that the improvement project will take place in 2018.
The improvements are expected to reduce the impact of weather on cruise calls. In 2017, poor weather or itinerary changes caused the cancellation of around 10% of planned cruise calls. However, 70 ships called in 2017 and the season closed with a call from Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jade on 27 September. Passenger numbers reached 50,768 for the year.
“It’s been another great season, with record passenger numbers and other records narrowly missed because of poor weather disrupting a few arrivals,” said Victor Sandison, senior commercial executive at Lerwick Port Authority. “The significantly higher bookings for 2018 hopefully have enough margin to allow a few weather-related cancellations or itinerary changes and still achieve record traffic, with over 90,000 passengers expected.”
Advance bookings for the 2018 season are at their highest level yet, with 87 ships scheduled to arrive between March and October.
2018 will include 11 maiden calls, among them the record-breaking 316-metre-long, 167,600gt MSC Meraviglia, which will call in July with 5,300 passengers and 2,000 crew.