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Highest number of vessels in port

Highlands poised for boost from more cruise ships

Cruise shipsHighlands tourism businesses are anticipating a potentially bumper year as more cruise ships bring passengers to the region.

An estimated 142,000 passengers will come into the Port of Cromarty Firth in Invergordon this year, 45% more than last year,.

They will arrive on on 91 cruise ships, 44% more than in 2015 and the highest on record.

They are expected to boost the local economy by around £14 million, contributing to tourist attractions across the Highlands.

The first ship to arrive will be the ‘AIDAvita’ on 12 April, carrying 1,200 passengers. The cruise season will finish later than usual this year with the ‘Black Watch’ cruise ship giving its 800 passengers a taste of winter in the Highlands on the 3 December.

Captain Iain Dunderdale, cruise manager at Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “We have been seeing a steady increase in the number of cruise passengers visiting Invergordon over the years, but 2017 looks like it is going to be extraordinary.

“Some of the world’s largest cruise ships will be coming into the Port this year, taking advantage of the deep water we have to offer. This is really good news for businesses across the Highlands and I look forward to welcoming new and returning vessels into the Port over the coming months.”

There will be eight new cruise ships this year, including MSC Cruises ‘MSC Preziosa’, which will carry 3,500 passengers and Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ new flagship ‘Columbus’ which will carry 1,750 passengers.

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port, said: “The cruise sector has a crucial role to play in the Cromarty Firth area, supporting the creation of local jobs in a number of areas including: tour guides, shipping agents, ground handling staff, transport providers, pipers, and the employees of local distilleries, golf clubs and the hospitality industry.

“This year, we also have plans to help more local businesses and attractions tailor what they do to fit cruise lines and their passengers.

“We held a workshop on 16 February in Inverness and introduced over 30 different tourist destinations and visitor attractions to the industry.”

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