Kirkwall is a seaport, the biggest town (population around 10,000) and capital city of Orkney Islands. Kirkwall is located on Mainland Orkney Island, off Great Britain's northern coast. Port Kirkwall serves mainly ferries to Lerwick and Aberdeen, as well as to North Orkney islands. The company serving these routes with regularly scheduled (daily) overnight crossings is Northlink Ferries.
The town was first mentioned in a 1046 saga as the residence of Rögnvald Brusason (Earl of Orkney), who was killed by his uncle Thorfinn. In 1486, King James III of Scotland gave Kirkwall the royal burgh status. The town's name comes from the Norse "Kirkjuvagr" (meaning Church Bay).
At the town's heart stands the St Magnus Cathedral, which was established in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney (1108–1117) by Earl Rögnvald Kali. Next to the Cathedral are the ruins of former Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace. The town has two museums. The bigger (Tankerness House Museum) has items of local historical importance. Its prehistoric, Viking and Pictish collections are of international importance. The other museum (Orkney Wireless) is dedicated to the history of recorded sound and radio.
Orkney Islands cruise ship tourism began in the 1980s. The archipelago is among UK's most popular British Isles (Around Britain) cruise itinerary destinations and Scotland's most favourite ship travel destination. An average of 125 cruise ships visit Orkney annually, carrying over 100,000 passengers and ~30,000 crew.
In 2018, Viking Ocean rated Kirkwall as "top cruise destination" among 46 seaports in Northern Europe. The rating was based on feedbacks from passengers, following company's 2018 itinerary program analysis. For season 2018, Port Kirkwall handled 140 cruise ship calls. For season 2019 were scheduled 170 calls. Around half of the visiting vessels are smaller-sized luxury ships (with max capacity 500 passengers).
"Shore excursion" options from Kirkwall include the bus tours to Skara Brae (stone-built settlement on Bay of Skaill / west coast Mainland Island, Orkney) and to Ring of Brodgar (aka Brogar - approx 6 mi / 7 km northeast of Stromness, Mainland Orkney).
Kirkwall cruise terminal
Kirkwall port has Scotland’s longest deepwater berth (at Hatston Quay). It measures 385 m (1263 ft) in length and has draft (depth) of 10,5 m (35 ft).
Hatston Quay is just outside Kirkwall, offering a complimentary bus shuttle into the town.
Stromness is Mainland Orkneys' second largest town and also offers excellent berthing for cruise liners.
Kirkwall Bay is another area used for ship anchorage.
Kirkwall tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Balfour Castle
- St Magnus Cathedral
- Earls Palace and Bishops (both are former Royal Residences)
- Highland Park is a distillery producing finest Scotish single malt whiskey.
- Cruise Industry
Situated between Kirkwall and Glasgow (Belfast), the main town of the Outer Hebrides - Stornoway - is a popular cruise destination. The harbour...December 16, 2019
- Cruise Industry
The number of cruise passengers stopping off in port of Orkney has increased largely in recent years. The tourist raid, however, has not all...August 1, 2017
Kirkwall Lifeboat has been requested to launch at 1:20 a.m. today by Shetland Coastguard in order to assist with a medical case on Hebridean Princess...July 17, 2017
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