The Port of Cromarty Firth is looking forward to another record-breaking year, as it brings more passengers and cruise ships to the Highlands, 40 years after the first cruise ship docked in the Firth.
An estimated 170,000 passengers will come into the Port in Invergordon this year, on 93 cruise ships, the highest number on record. This new cruise record equates to an 11% increase in the number of passengers, following on from last year’s 54% increase. The number of ships has increased from 91 to 93.
These cruise passengers will boost the Highland economy by around £17 million, contributing to tourist attractions across the region, including Cawdor Castle, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Jacobite Cruises, Glenmorangie Distillery, Inverness and the Strathspey Steam Railway. The industry continues to help Invergordon become a tourist destination in its own right, with Invergordon Museum, the town’s famous murals and its thriving arts and crafts scene.
This year the Port is working with HoSTGA, the Professional Tour Guide Association for the Highlands, on an Invergordon High Street Familiarisation Event. This will improve their members’ knowledge of the shops and facilities available in Invergordon, so they can advise the many thousands of passengers they take on excursions in the Highlands and encourage them into the town. The event will brief them on what is available for visitors to see and do in Invergordon, as well as where to buy essentials supplies.
The first cruise ship to arrive will again be the ‘AIDAVita’, but she will dock two weeks earlier this year, on the 27th March, carrying 1,200 passengers. The cruise season will finish in September with the Albatros carrying 800 passengers.
Allison McGuire, new Cruise Manager, Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “We have seen a steady increase in the number of cruise passengers visiting Invergordon over the years and 2018 will be no exception. 2017 was an extraordinary year with passengers and ship numbers up by over 50%.
“This year we will continue to see some of the world’s largest cruise ships coming into the Port, 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, in my first season in the job.”
“We are looking forward to welcoming twelve new cruise ships this year, including MSC Cruises ‘MSC Meraviglia’, which carries 4,500 passengers and Windstar Cruises’ ‘Star Breeze’ which carries just 212 passengers.
Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “In June, this year we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of cruise ships coming into the Cromarty Firth. These ships will bring 170,000 tourists to the Highlands this year, playing a crucial role in 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 create a Port of Cromarty Firth Cruise and Crews Club to ensure a warm welcome to passengers and crews from the cruise ships coming into the Port and to create a sustainable partnership approach to keeping this business in the Highlands for years to come. We are also pressing ahead with plans for a new berth which will be able to accommodate the largest cruise ships currently being built.”