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New highs in prospect at Lerwick in 2016

New highs in prospect at Lerwick in 2016
The record for the largest cruise ship to visit Lerwick is set to be broken twice next year during what is expected to the best season so far at the Shetland port.

The harbour will be visited by P&O Cruises’ 115,055gt Azura on June 30; followed by Celebrity Cruises’ 122,210gt Celebrity Silhouette in mid-August.

New highs are in prospect for an estimated 50,925 passengers and 70 ship calls.

The prospects for next year are revealed by Lerwick Port Authority following the end of the 2015 season during which cancellations reduced bookings by eight. Victor Sandison, the Port Authority’s senior commercial executive, said: 'Bad weather at sea reduced arrivals, with a number of last-minute call-offs, including large vessels, which hit passenger numbers.'

The season was extended at 48-hours’ notice last Sunday with the arrival of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Hanseatic while en route from Akureyri, Iceland, to Kirkwall, Orkney, following a voyage to Greenland.  The visit brought the season totals at Lerwick to 41 vessels, carrying 30,430 passengers – all below previous records.

Sandison added: 'In a highly competitive market, cruise operators are spoiled for choice and appear to be juggling different destinations in different years to refresh itineraries. It's definitely our turn next season - and 2017 is also already looking good, with 28 advance bookings so far, at 1,387,724 gross tonnes and an estimated 31,000-plus passengers.”

The 2016 season is due to run from April 24 to October 6, with June and July the busiest months, with 16 and 21 calls respectively. It will include ten maiden calls, including Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Sea and Viking Star.