Half-a-million Cruise Passengers Heading For Scotland. Best year yet follows another record-breaking season in 2015

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' Boudicca. In this image sailing around the Isle of Mull, Scotland (Courtesy Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines)Cruise passengers arriving in Scotland this year are set to top over 500,000 for the first time following another record-breaking season in 2015 when 460,546 visitors sailed into ports around the country.

Numbers increased for the sixth successive year – by 14.8% on 2014 – while cruise ship visits rose 9.6% to 501 calls, generating an estimated £54.6 million for the Scottish economy through passenger spend alone, up by around £5.5 million on the previous year.

A number of ports recorded their best cruise seasons yet in 2015, with Greenock Ocean Terminal the first Scottish port to welcome over 100,000 passengers in a season, at 108,866, and Kirkwall exceeding previous records, with 81,401 passengers.

The ongoing trend towards larger vessels is set to see records continue to tumble at a number of ports in 2016, when 644 vessels are expected.
Victor Sandison, Chairman of marketing association, Cruise Scotland, said: “The continuing growth shows the increasing popularity of Scotland as a destination in a highly-competitive global market. This year’s estimated passenger count of over 525,000 will take us around halfway to the annual target of 1.1 million by 2029 – a figure identified in a study carried out in 2010 when there were just over 268,000 cruise visitors.

“Breaking half-a-million passengers will be a great achievement for all involved in marketing, port services and providing a great welcome, from harbours and shops to visitor attractions. However, it is vital that we continue to promote Scotland’s many attractions and keep delivering a first-class product to maximise future opportunities.”

Viking Ocean Cruises will visit Scotland for the first time in 2016, with Viking Sea and Viking Star due to call at Kirkwall, Lerwick and Rosyth, and a first-time round-Britain voyage by Disney Cruise Line will see multiple calls by Disney Magic, including Greenock, Kirkwall and Invergordon.

Cruise Scotland is looking to expand its ongoing efforts to increase participation by cruise executives on familiarisation visits to Scotland to enhance their awareness of what is on offer.

It will be exhibiting again at Seatrade Cruise Global, this time in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from 14 to 17 March when cruise executives will be offered a taste of Scotland provided by Walkers Shortbread.

The organisation will also be participating at Seatrade Cruise Med, in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, from 21 to 23 September 2016.

(Cruise Scotland)