Orkney Islands Council unveils proposals to control the number of cruise ships

   August 19, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

The Orkney Islands Council (OIC) unveiled a strategic blueprint to navigate the bustling waters of cruise ship tourism. As one of the crown jewels in the UK's maritime tourism tapestry, Orkney's allure to cruisers has both enriched its cultural tapestry and strained its infrastructural seams.

The proposal (Cruise Booking and Confirmation Policy) stands at the threshold of approval by the esteemed councilors. With an astute eye toward curbing the challenges posed by Orkney's reputation as a magnetic destination for cruise ships, this policy is poised to set a distinct course. Foremost among its provisions is the imposition of constraints on the size of vessels permitted to grace the island's shores in any given day.

Past chapters in this saga have witnessed the OIC striving to grapple with the dynamic currents of the cruise industry. A notable attempt arose in 2014 when the harbinger of Orkney's maritime affairs declared its intentions to eschew cruise ships whose combined passenger numbers might eclipse 4,500 souls. A noble goal, indeed, yet one that held a modicum of leeway in its execution.

As the years have passed, the OIC acknowledges in a forthcoming report to its esteemed members that orchestrating the crescendo of cruise bookings in alignment with the 2014 directive has been a challenging endeavor. Where yesteryear saw the zenith of passengers crest around 4,800, the maritime diary of 2023 speaks of an even grander number - ~6,090 souls.

In this new maritime proposal, a compass bearing toward management emerges. Rather than tethering their focus solely on passenger quotas, the policy eloquently delineates a framework based on the dimensions of the maritime behemoths. Cruise liners, the lifeblood of this narrative, are stratified into five distinct categories, each defined by the number of passengers they accommodate.

Category One holds vessels harboring up to 500 passengers.

Category Two welcomes 501 to 1500 travelers.

Category Three stands for 1501 to 2500 tourists.

Category Four encompasses 2501 to 5000; and Category Five is for the largest vessels transporting 5000+ passengers.

What transpires from this policy is a poetic arithmetic of harmony. The report elegantly states that the cumulative magnitude of ships docking at Hatston Pier and gracing the Kirkwall Bay Anchorage should never transcend the sum of Category Five. It paints a vivid mosaic where one Category Five vessel may berth at any given juncture, while alternate scenarios weave a symphony of coexistence, such as a Category Three companioned by a Category Two or a Category One accompanied by a Category Four.

This maritime manuscript is now poised for its climactic chapter. The deliberations by elected members on the harbor authority subcommittee, scheduled for the forthcoming Tuesday of August 22nd, herald the unfolding tale of Orkney's maritime future. In these council chambers, the compass of decision shall be set, defining the course of cruise ships as they approach the idyllic shores of the Orkney Islands.