Islanders prepare for 100,000 visitors as cruise ship season returns

Around 190 ships will bring thousands of visitors to the island, making it a record year for the sector.

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Arriving from all corners of the globe to discover the islands, the first of around 100,000 visitors have arrived in Orkney as the cruise season kicks off.

Around 190 ships will bring thousands of visitors to the island, making it a record year for the sector.

The Viking Venus berthed at Haston Pier near Kirkwall on Sunday brought with it 900 passengers, keen to explore the town’s heritage and landmarks.

Captain of the ship, Torborn Stenkuka said: “For us seamen, it’s boring to be laid up. We see the joy among the guests and of course for the crew as well. 

“This is the life, to be sailing around, go to different ports and enjoy different cultures.”

The pandemic put a stop to cruises in 2020 and just 36 docked in Orkney as part of a soft season last year.

Local businesses say the visitors will help boost the economy after the halted cruise industry largely affected hospitality and tourism on the islands.

Shop owner Duncan Mclean says they are now preparing for their busiest season yet.

He said: “We are going to have 20 staff which is more than we have ever had before because we are expecting the busiest tourist season ever.

“Also we buy in extra stocks of Orkney produce – whisky, gin, beer and cheese – and also crafts and knitwear and so on to sell in our gift shop. The benefit of the cruise and tourism spreads to all corners of Orkney.”

Greeting passengers as they arrive, Susanne Carter said:  “It was devastating for everyone and of course for the economy but when the decision was made I guess it’s about safety at the end of the day so that was that.”