Cruise Ships Make a Welcome Return to MontroseNeil Hardie
Montrose Port Authority is the first Scottish mainland port to welcome a cruise ship as UK-only sailings restart.
Operated by Noble Caledonia, MS Island Sky had 66 passengers on board – half of the capacity of the vessel – when it arrived on the afternoon of July 20.
The ship set sail from Lerwick on Monday evening (19 July), the first time in nearly 18 months a cruise ship has visited a Scottish port.
The Scottish Government reduced Covid-19 restrictions to Level 0 from Monday 19 July, allowing UK-only cruises to resume again.
Captain Tom Hutchison, chief executive and harbour master at Montrose Port Authority, was pleased to welcome passengers to Angus.
He said: “The last 18 months have been extremely trying for the whole tourism industry and it is great to see the country starting to slowly open up again.
“We worked closely with the cruise operator to make sure the visit is as safe and smooth as possible.
“Passengers can only disembark the vessel to board coaches for pre-arranged tours to Glamis Castle.”
While cruise ships have been able to visit English ports since May this year, Scottish passengers can start disembarking this week.
Cruise Scotland, the industry’s marketing organisation, also welcomed the return of cruise travel.
The organisation’s membership includes 16 ports and harbours across Scotland.
Cruise Scotland chairman Rob Mason said; “The arrival of the first vessel today reflects the pent-up demand by both passengers and operators to visit Scotland. Expected arrivals till the end-of-season in the autumn are very encouraging and will be the springboard for gradual recovery.
“There are healthy volumes of bookings for next year and 2023.”
Over the last year, the sector the Scottish and UK governments to develop and strengthen safety measures.
Current protocols have been through extensive testing as 600,000 people have sailed on cruises around the globe since last autumn.
Mr Mason said: “The health and wellbeing of passengers, crew, shoreside staff and the communities visited are paramount.
“The Cruise Scotland membership place great emphasis on the safety of local communities, which are a key part of the industry and will share in the recovery.”
On board the MS Island Sky, safety measures are in place to protect the passengers, crew and local communities.
All passengers are fully vaccinated UK residents.
Head of fleet operations at Noble Caledonia, Mike Deegan said: “Operating, as we do, with much smaller ships and carrying smaller numbers of passengers, means we are capable of managing our operators in Montrose extremely safely.”