The rebuilding of Lerwick Harbour’s cruise traffic in the aftermath of COVID restrictions will receive extra impetus in February with the earliest start yet to the annual cruising season.
The premium brand Viking OCEAN booked 5 visits with its newbuild - Viking Venus, during 2022-Q1, starting with the maiden port call on Thursday, February 3, and scheduled to berth at Mair’s Pier. Previously, there have been rare arrivals in late February and March, with the main season usually starting in April.
For the second year in a row, Lerwick is expected to be the first port of call in the Scottish season, following the reopening in July 2021 after the 17-month COVID pause.
The 229-m, 900-passenger Viking Venus is to be undertaking 12-day ‘In Search of Northern Lights’ voyages, departing from London-Tilbury (England) via Lerwick, to Bergen (Norway) taking in the far north regions of the country.
Viking Cruises booked a total of 20 calls at Lerwick during this season, which is the highest number by a single cruise ship operator in decades of the Shetland port.
Melanie Henderson, Lerwick Port Authority Cruise & Marketing Manager said they had seen the Viking program, "with its early start and a high number of bookings, as a vote of confidence in the harbour and Shetland, including the way the restart was handled through 2021.”
“It gives great encouragement to everyone involved to see the recovery in our overall bookings for 2022 and that activity is on the way back, albeit with some Covid measures still in place, such as shore excursion “bubbles” in the short term.
“Interest from the industry to develop Scotland’s cruise potential adds to our hopes that February and March sailings can be built into an annual winter cruising itinerary, extending the established window for visits to Lerwick.”
With schedules for 2022 subject to finalization, there are currently 100+ ships lined up to visit Lerwick UK, which could mean record numbers of vessels, tonnage of shipping, and passengers.