The decision was made by the Scottish government on the same day that the UK lifts most COVID-19 restrictions.
Island Sky first to call
Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky is the first to call since early last year, arriving in Lerwick Harbour, Shetland this morning.
It berthed at Lerwick’s Victoria Pier with 66 passengers on board — half the capacity of the vessel — and will circumnavigate the UK.
Port of Cromarty Firth
On July 25, Marella Cruises' Marella Explorer 2 will call at the Port of Cromarty Firth — the first cruise ship to call there since 2019 — making its inaugural call to Invergordon.
‘This marks a major milestone in our managed return to “normality,” which is a moment the whole country has been working towards,’ said Bob Buskie, chief executive, Port of Cromarty Firth. ‘We have scheduled a further COVID-secure check with our port health representatives from the Highland Council Environmental Health Team ahead of the first arrival.’
He went on to add, ‘Port of Cromarty Firth appreciates the anxiety that many stakeholders feel with regards to the transition to...the opening up of society to pre-covid working arrangements. Rest assured the port and its customers, employees and supply chain are doing everything possible to manage this transition phase as constructively and safely as possible.’
Passengers and crew must produce a negative PCR test prior to embarking and consent to testing during the cruise. Shore excursion bubbles are in place and passengers will only be permitted ashore on organised ships excursion, subject to review by the Scottish government at the end of the month.
Enhanced infrastructure in preparation for cruise ships' arrival
Infrastructure improvements are underway at Invergordon, with the port working in collaboration with The Highland Council, Invergordon Community Council, Invergordon Development Trust, Police Scotland, Stagecoach and local tour operators to identify and agree on solutions which will enhance management of cruise traffic and passengers in the town.
As a result, the port has funded a new pedestrian crossing, which will improve road and passenger safety; upgraded visitor information signage will also be displayed to help guide passengers to local businesses and attractions.
Further plans include the creation of a new passenger pick-up and drop-off zone adjacent to the port’s West Harbour to limit congestion plus newly marked parking bays for coaches.