Stornoway Harbour is set for its busiest summer yet as a record 46 cruise ships are expected throughout the tourist season.
Bookings are still coming in, but already the number of ships expected this year is more than double the number of visiting cruise ships in 2013.
Stornoway Port Authority is preparing for over 150,000 visitors in what will be its 150th anniversary year.
An SPA spokesperson said that this increased interest is a result of SPA’s major marketing and promotional campaigns, targeting new clients and establishing long term relationships with existing agents.
They said: “Cruise Agents have recently become incredibly interested in expanding their offers to new areas, including North West Scotland and Outer Hebrides.”
A Stornoway Port Authority spokesperson continued: “Since 2013 Stornoway Port Authority was actively taking part in the majority of Cruise events and conferences, with probably the most important one - Cruise Miami which gathers the most important and the biggest Cruise Agents.
“This season we’ve also noticed a significant increase in new Cruise Ships coming to Stornoway, which are also bringing more passengers, like Marco Polo, Corinthian, Magellan and Seabourn Quest.”
The largest ships come to Stornoway from the south of England, setting out on island tours, such as CMV’s flagship Megallan, which is due on several visits with a capacity of 1250 passengers. Similarly, UK-based Fred. Olsen cruises’ Balmoral will visit on multiple occasions, carrying up to 1300 passengers.
Through the summer of 2013 Stornoway was visited by 22 cruise ships. Last year saw the arrival of 38 ships, and there was a 68% increase in passenger numbers.
This resulted in a significant demand for guides with a variety of languages in demand, including Dutch, French, Gaelic, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.
Already the SPA has received 30 cruise ship bookings for 2016.
The SPA has also received very positive feedback about Stornoway Cruise Ambassadors who welcome passengers.
SPA stressed that marketing activities will be continued to ensure cruise calls continue to grow.
As part of the Stornoway Port Authority’s 150th anniversary celebrations the port is planning to set up cruise ship market stalls in the ferry terminal from the arrival of the first ship on March 24 to October 9 during each cruise ship visit.
The stalls will be available to all retailers who wish to promote and sell local products on a seasonal basis.
Information can be found at stornowayportauthority.com.
Applications for the stalls should be submitted before March 10.