Stornoway Cruise Ambassadors are set for busy months ahead with 46 cruise vessels expected to call at the Lewis port this season.
The volunteer group welcomed the first cruise visitors of 2015 as 525 passengers from cruise liner ‘Azores’ enjoyed their time ashore on March 24th.
Established in 2013 and now sponsored by Harris Tweed Hebrides and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the ambassadors meet and greet disembarking cruise passengers, and distribute maps and brochures listing places of interest for them to explore, as well as answer any questions.
Passenger feedback has been positive – a survey revealed a 94% satisfaction rating – with the friendliness of people frequently being commented on, along with opinions on how different and beautiful the island is.
Cruise ship visits to the port have increased by 50% over the past five years, and during the 2015 season around 16,000 passengers and 8,000 crew are anticipated.
A rise in visits spells good news for the islands, with an estimated £1.5million generated to the local economy.
Once ashore, many passengers are booked on tours undertaken by the Western Isles Tourist Guides Association with destinations including Bernera, Harris and the West Side.
Taxis and service buses also benefit as some visitors prefer to strike out on their own. Walking tours of Stornoway town and the Castle Grounds are another choice available, as well as Segway excursions.