Scotland’s most northerly mainland commercial port, Scrabster Harbour, has made steady progress during the 2015 season in establishing itself as a port of call for cruise vessels.
The harbour, a multi-purpose port serving Thurso in Caithness, welcomed six cruise ships throughout last summer bringing in passenger numbers of more than 3,200 to the area. Amadea, a 29,008 tonne cruise ship, arrived in the harbour on September 8th from Reykjavik, Iceland with 576 visitors eager to visit the north of Scotland before leaving for Bremerhaven, Germany the next day.
It is now a decade since a cruise seminar, attended by local tourism ‘stake-holders’, was held in the Castle of Mey, the late Queen Mother’s handsome home in the area. Thereafter, Scrabster made the strategic decision to market the port and local area as a cruise destination which has resulted in more than 23,000 cruise passengers arriving at Scrabster since 2006. Understandably, the Castle, which has now been opened to the public, the venue of the meeting referred to above, has become one of the popular shore excursion for visitors.
Scrabster’s location offers a competitive advantage to a range of sectors including oil and gas, renewables, fishing, cargo and the cruise and ferry industry. Cruise ships up to 180 metres and 8 metres draft, can berth alongside, while larger vessels use the deep water anchorage available within 0.2 nautical miles.
Sandy Mackie, Trust Manager for Scrabster Harbour, said: “Scrabster is delighted to see the increase in passenger numbers during 2015. Over the past decade we have managed to attract visitors equivalent to three times the population of the local Thurso area. We have also had a very busy summer period with passengers on the daily ferry link to Orkney increasing by 3% over the peak season.”
The port now has 10 cruise vessel reservations for this year, which could bring passenger numbers of more than 5,000 to the Caithness area with Fred Olsen’s Boudicca being the first scheduled liner of the season in April.