With 140 cruise ships due to call in to Orkney this summer adding to the other tour operators that include our islands in their itinerary, the roads of Mainland are becoming increasingly chock-a-block and at times near by impossible to negotiate during the peak tourist season. As one answer to this Orkney Islands Council’s Marine Services team has launched a new Twitter feed to keep local folk up to date with changes to cruise ship comings and goings this summer.
The @cruise_orkney feed will provide up to the minute information on cruise ships in Orkney, particularly changed arrival and departure times and any cancellations.
The tweets will also automatically appear on the OIC Updates Facebook page.
Local businesses are expected to use the service to plan their day around cruise ship arrivals and departures. Tourism in Orkney employs 1,200 people which is 12% of the local workforce. This is a much higher rate than in Scotland as a whole at 9%. Many of those are employed in small B & B businesses catering for visitors who come to Orkney for longer than a one day stay. Serious concerns have been raised about the impact so many cruise ships and tour buses are having on the quality of experience independent visitors to the islands are having.
The Orkney Greens who are fielding 2 candidates in May’s local elections see it as a key issue and have said if elected they will:
” seek to optimise the growth of tourism from cruise liners, coach tours and traditional visitors in a sustainable way for the benefit of all; and lobby for a new Visitor Centre for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney around Stenness.”
They have also said that: “Visiting cruise liners must use surplus green energy when visiting our ports.”
Orkney’s first cruise ship call is this Sunday the 9th of April. The Astoria will arrive in Kirkwall at 08:00 and depart at 18:00.
Cruise Ships & Passenger Numbers
140 cruise ships are due to visit between now and September with a potential passenger figure of 123,000, from the maximum capacity of 136,000. This figure does not include crew numbers of 30,000.
- 41 will have under 200 passengers
- 63 will have a passenger capacity of less than 500
- 23 will have a passenger capacity of over 2000
- 9 will have a passenger capacity of over 3000
The biggest ship to visit this year will be the MSC Preziosa with a passenger capacity of 4345, arriving in Orkney on 10 May, 7 June, 28 July and 22 August.
Stromness will host 21 cruise ship visits this year, with Lyness receiving its first cruise port call on 5 June.
Over 5 years there has been an increase of 300% in cruise ship passenger numbers according to the O.I.C’s Marine Services . The short sea John O’Groats Ferry is also able to accommodate 250 passengers and operates a daily service from 1st May. Travellers also arrive via the Northlink and Pentalina ferries, Kirkwall airport and by our popular marinas.
With a new set of councillors to be elected on the 4th of May it will be interesting to see if the issue of rising cruise ship numbers will be addressed. It is crucial that our other visitors who stay, spend money and support local businesses throughout the islands are able to continue to enjoy their experience here.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame
A full list of the cruise ship visits for this year is available at https://www.cruise-orkney.com/.