Port Aberdeen's expansion project now fully operational

   September 11, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Balmoral Quay is now operational as part of Aberdeen's South Harbour development, allowing the city to accommodate larger cruise ships. This milestone will be celebrated at an official opening event on September 22nd, graced by the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

Marlene Mitchell, the commercial manager of the Port of Aberdeen, expressed enthusiasm for this achievement, highlighting that South Harbour has led to a significant increase in cruise shipping this year. The port has already handled ships of up to 220 m (722 ft) in LOA-length this season, with expectations of further growth in 2024.

South Harbour comprises four quays: Balmoral, Castlegate, Dunnottar, and Crathes, providing a combined 1.5 kilometers of quayside. This season, three of these quays have hosted cruise ships, representing over 40% of the total cruise ship calls.

Mitchell also mentioned positive feedback from ship captains regarding the new layout at South Harbour. They appreciate the clear quaysides, which facilitate the safe and efficient management of cruise tourists. Harbor access and egress are straightforward, thanks to a short channel with no restrictions, allowing ships to quickly navigate the pilot buoy.

In terms of sustainability, the Port of Aberdeen is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 across all three scopes. They are currently assessing onshore power requirements in South Harbour and commencing similar work in North Harbour. Building on the success of the opening, the Port is exploring future quayside facility requirements and the possibility of becoming an embarkation port/homeport for cruise companies.

In addition to these developments, passengers have benefited from the Visit Aberdeenshire Welcome Volunteer scheme, providing assistance on the quayside with maps and local information for independent exploration. The region offers a wide range of attractions, from Royal Deeside and Balmoral Castle to distilleries, the free NuArt street art walking tour, and a rich historical heritage.

Mitchell emphasized the excitement of the season, emphasizing the port's role as a gateway to the city and the surrounding area, creating growth opportunities. Cruise visitors return, and local businesses have reported increased foot traffic on cruise days, embracing the concept of readiness with additional staff and special offerings like whisky tastings.

The success of these efforts can be attributed to the collaboration of the Cruise Aberdeenshire team, which includes Visit Aberdeenshire, Visit Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Inspired, and the Port of Aberdeen.