It is estimated that the market was worth more than £49m last year when 457 vessels brought 401,325 passengers, with passengers reaching new highs and a number of ports breaking their own records. Passengers increased by nearly 16,700 on 2013.
While approximately the same number of ships are booked in 2015, the continuing trend to larger vessels is expected to see passengers up by over 8% to an estimated 434,530.
Victor Sandison, chairman of Cruise Scotland, said: ‘The combination of the multitude of Scotland’s attractions and the quality of facilities and services, supported by our marketing efforts, are delivering results and making a major contribution to the Scottish economy, as last year’s records and this season’s positive outlook demonstrate.’
The growing appeal of Scotland as a destination means the season has extended and will run from early-March to mid-December, with the final call by Fred. Olsen Lines’ Black Watch at Greenock on December 15 to disembark passengers.
This season is also expected to see Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic calling in July at a UK port for the first time, with Kirkwall, Orkney, its only UK destination on a cruise including Norway and Iceland.
Greenock Ocean Terminal is set to become the first Scottish port to welcome over 100,000 passengers in its busiest season yet. It will also see the first direct sailing from Scotland to the Caribbean, with Black Watch departing Greenock in November on a 32-day round-trip.
Queen Mary 2 is making a maiden call to Oban on a cruise to celebrate Cunard Line’s 175th anniversary.
The organisation will also continue its postcard campaign aimed at delegates heading for Cruise Shipping Miami. They will be invited to stand 547 at the Convention Centre to give their verdicts in a dram-versus-Tunnock’s tasting between two of Scotland’s famous international products – whisky and Tunnock’s caramel wafers.
A Find-a-Cruise page aimed at potential visitors from the US has also been updated. It lists 37 operators with vessels calling at Scottish ports in 2015 and complements the lines’ own promotions.
Cruise Scotland has 17 full members (including 15 ports and two major ground handlers) and four associate members – the latest to join being Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.