Cruise Ships Asked to Be Quiet and Stop Sounding Horns

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Invergordon, a popular cruise destination in Scotland, has been in the spotlight recently. A longstanding tradition of cruise ships sounding their horn when leaving port has been questioned following a single complaint from a resident. This resulted in local authorities requesting cruise ships to silence their farewell honks.

Invergordon is a popular cruise destination for cruises to the UK and is seen as the gateway to the beautiful Scottish highlands. Based on the Cromarty Firth sea-arm, several cruise lines regularly visit the port, including Viking, AIDA, Holland America Line, and Mein Schiff.

Unwanted Noise or Cherished Tradition?

The Port of Invergordon in Scotland, which saw a record 109 cruise vessels in 2022 and welcomed 166,000 guests and 69,000 crew members in 2019, has been at the center of a controversy. 

Cruise ships have traditionally sounded their horns while departing the Cromarty Firth, signaling farewell to the nearby communities of Cromarty and Nigg. But now, this long-standing custom is being questioned after a single noise complaint from one resident.

Cruise Ship at Invergordon
Cruise Ship at Invergordon (Photo Credit: MikhailBerkut / Shutterstock)

Toria Anderson, a Cromarty resident who started a petition to continue the tradition, said to the BBC: “There are those who see the horns as an unwanted noise, while others consider it a part of the local charm. Some have a musical horn and a funky tune. It is a signal to say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye.’ Many people look forward to the area’s cruise ship season.”

Even though only one complaint sparked the controversy, the port authority has been seeking the community’s views on the future of the popular practice. Over 1,200 people have already signed the petition backing the horn blasts, showing strong support for maintaining the tradition.

Read Also: Cruise Ship Horn – The History and Significance

A spokesman for the port authority highlighted the importance of the community’s feedback in making the final decision.

 “If people feel strongly for or against the ships’ farewell horn blasts, we urge them to share their feedback with their local community council or directly with the port before 29 June so that this can be taken into account.”

“If the communities of Cromarty and Nigg feel strongly about them sounding their horns as they leave the firth, we will respect the wishes they express and advise the cruise ship operators accordingly.”

Under UK or International maritime law, no specific regulation prohibits cruise ships from blowing their horns when departing from a port. However, local regulations could ban the practice if it goes against noise pollution regulations or in areas of natural importance.

The tradition of sounding a ship’s horn when leaving port is steeped in maritime history. Modern cruise ships often sound their horns when leaving port as a sign of farewell and to mark the beginning of a voyage.

Cruise Ship Horns
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

The musical farewell has become a characteristic and popular feature of cruise departures over the last years, with ships even sounding out songs on their horns.

The horn of the 149,215 gross tons Queen Mary 2, one of the most famous ocean liners in the world, is particularly distinctive and is said to be based on the note of the original RMS Queen Mary

The issue demonstrates the tightrope cruise ships walk between traditions and modern living standards. A tightrope that has seen a fair number of issues brought to light in recent years. 

From cruise ships that sail through the center of Venice to environmental concerns in places such as Alaska, Norway, Key West, Cozumel, and the Cayman Islands, it is a balance that will continue to be negotiated in ports worldwide.

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