THE SMALL FISHING VILLAGE of Newhaven with a small harbour, which is virtually dry at low tide, has become the major landing place for the largest cruise liners visiting Edinburgh.
Newhaven’s origins date back to the 1480s when the harbour at Leith, at the mouth of the Water of Leith, was becoming increasingly busy and the local fishing community decided to move their base of operations just over a mile to the west. Up until 2014, the largest ships which were too large to enter Leith through the lock, which has a maximum vessel size of 210 metres loa x 30 metres beam x 9.75 metres draft, or had too large an air draft (over 49.20m) to sail under the Forth Bridge into Rosyth, moored off the Hound Point Oil Terminal. They then tendered into Hawes Pier at South Queensferry, situated between the road and the rail bridges. Prior to the opening of Newhaven as a landing point, 21 of the 82 cruise ships visiting in 2013 moored off south Queensferry while the others moored at either Leith or Rosyth. On 21 July 2014, the Queen Elizabeth was the first cruise ship to use the new pontoons moored in the harbour at Newhaven. Since then, the number of vessels using Newhaven has steadily increased with 34 of the 110 scheduled to visit this year, 2019, tendering into the harbour. This change is even greater than might be apparent as these 34 are all of much larger capacity, with some such as Norwegian Getaway, shown, having as many as 3,963 passengers, while those vessels entering Leith are more often small, expedition ships such as the RCGS Resolute (ex-Hanseatic) carrying as few as 146 guests. Tendering into a harbour is always dependent upon the weather, especially from the more open waters of the Firth and it may be of interest to note that Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer decided not to moor off Newhaven on 3 June, having arrived at the anchorage, but decided to sail round Scotland to her next destination at Greenock on the Clyde, while Crown Princess managed to successfully anchor up river, off Hound Point, and tender into South Queensferry.