Scotland Ports Setting Sail on Busiest Cruise Season Ever

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Capital Cruising is poised to begin its busiest season to date, with a projected 235,000 passengers expected to explore Scottish ports, including Edinburgh, Fife, and Dundee. The numbers are a significant increase over last year, emphasizing the region’s growing popularity.

Growth in Scottish Cruise Tourism

This month marks the beginning of what is expected to be the busiest cruise season in the history of Capital Cruising, which manages seven ports and anchorages in the U.K., including Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. More than 160 cruise calls have been scheduled for the 2024 season, surpassing last year’s total of 149 vessels.

The ships will bring approximately 235,000 passengers to Scotland’s east coast, visiting destinations such as Edinburgh, Fife, and Dundee, which is witnessing remarkable growth with 16 ship calls booked for 2024, starting with Seaborne Venture’s visit on April 27.

Rob Mason, head of cruise at Forth Ports, which owns Capital Cruising, said of the season’s launch, “We are excited to have started our busiest ever cruise season. Cruise is an important contributor to our local and national economy.”

Mason highlighted the dramatic growth of the cruise sector in Scotland, noting, “Over the past decade, there has been an incredible 93% growth in the attraction of cruise in Scotland with an expected 1 million passengers calling into Scotland’s ports, generating an incredible £130 million for the country’s economy.”

Impact of Cruising on Scotland

The 2024 season in Scotland spans from April to October, coinciding with the best weather and tourist-friendly destinations. With new records being set for the number of vessels and passengers, the economic contributions will be substantial.

Read Also: Scottish Port Expects to Double Cruise Ship Arrivals by 2027

Capital Cruising ports include the Port of Edinburgh, Leith, Rosyth, and Dundee, as well as deep water anchorages in the River Forth for Newhaven and South Queensferry, which mainly operates sightseeing cruises.

Edinburgh and the River Forth
Edinburgh and the River Forth (Photo Credit: Roy Henderson)

As Scotland’s capital and busiest cruise port, Edinburgh is a vibrant cultural center of the northern UK nation. It is also home to Leith, where the Royal Yacht Britannia rests. Edinburgh has already welcomed its first ship of the season from Viking Oceans, Viking Venus, which arrived on April 9 during its 14-night “British Isles Explorer.” 

Oceania Cruises’ Sirena arrives next on April 24 during a 59-night “Seafarer’s Inspiration: Miami to Rome” sailing, followed by Princess Cruises’ arrival on April 30 with Regal Princess’ 28-night “British Isles Grand Adventure.” The two cruise lines will operate numerous sailings in Edinburgh during the season, which will close with Sirena visiting one last time on October 23.

Additional cruise lines will grace Edinburgh’s shores throughout the season, including Holland America Line, Silversea, Cunard, Windstar Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Seaborn.

Dubbed the “City of Discovery” as the RRS Discovery Antarctic exploration ship was built here, Dundee’s season starts with Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Onward, arriving on June 24, followed by Azamara Quest on July 16. Located 60 miles north of Edinburgh, Dundee’s season extends into November, with Ambassador Cruise Line’s Ambition visiting on November 8 and 22.

Cruise Ship in Scotland
Photo Credit: Peter Devlin

Along the River Forth, the port of Rosyth, just 40 minutes north of Edinburgh, welcomes ships from the U.K. cruise line, Fred Olsen Cruises, which uses the port to embark on summer adventures. Its first voyage in these waters will be the “Summertime Norwegian Fjords, Landscapes & Vikings” 7-night cruise from Rosyth to Balmoral on June 22.

With the increase in cruise traffic in Scotland, the Scottish Green party announced plans in October 2023 to pursue a new cruise ship tax. The goal will be to raise funds to support communities receiving cruise ships, and also encouraging cruise lines to create zero-emission ships.

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