The Outer Hebrides expects to welcome tens of thousands of cruise ship guests as more than 100 vessels are scheduled to call at Stornoway, the capital of Lewis, the largest island of the Outer Hebrides archipelago off Scotland’s northwest coast. The Stornoway Port Authority says the season will be a boon to local economies.
2023 Cruise Season Kicks Off April 20
Stornoway, the region’s main port on the isle of Lewis and the gateway to the remote Outer Hebrides, is gearing up for a busy cruise season that kicks off on Thursday, April 20 with the arrival of the Hurtigruten Expeditions’ MS Spitsbergen. The 180-guest ship will call at the port as part of her 11-day itinerary along the Scotland coast, and will ultimately make several Stornoway visits throughout the season.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the ships and everyone aboard over the next few months. The port is a gateway to the Outer Hebrides, offering cruise passengers the opportunity to enjoy the unique hospitality, culture, history, mystique and many famed landmarks our islands have to offer,” said Alex MacLeod, Stornoway Port Authority CEO.
“The season will bring a significant boost for many businesses in the islands as they continue to work to recover from the challenges they have faced in recent years.”
The largest ship that will call in 2023 is MSC Cruises’ 3,959-guest MSC Preziosa, which will make her maiden call to Stornoway on September 18.
Other notable ships for the season include Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,340-guest Norwegian Dawn, Silversea Cruises’ 200-guest Silver Endeavour and 388-guest Silver Shadow, Cunard’s 2,081-guest Queen Victoria, Seabourn’s 604-guest Seabourn Ovation, MSC Cruises’ 3,605-guest MSC Poesia and Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-guest Riviera.
The season will close following the September 28 visit of Hebridean Island Cruises’ 48-guest Hebridean Princess.
The port authority believes that the number of cruise ship calls will increase in 2024, after the opening of its $74 million Deep Water Terminal.
The facility, which is nearing completion, will be able to accommodate ships up to 1,181 feet (360 meters) in length. That capability will enable most, but not all, of the industry’s largest ships to dock. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, for instance, including Oasis of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas, are slightly too long, at 1,186 feet and 1,188 feet, respectively.
Other Scotland Ports See Cruise Arrival Spikes
MacLeod noted that the number of calls scheduled this year at Stornoway highlights the growing popularity of the Outer Hebrides among cruise operators. The same could be said for several other Scotland ports that are expecting double-digit increases in port calls this year.
Also a west coast port, the Greenock Ocean Terminal in Clydeport expects 91 cruise ships to call in 2023, a 25% hike compared to 2022. Located in the Firth of Clyde, the port will welcome 150,000 cruisers and about 38,000 crew members, which combined will total a record number of cruise arrivals.
On Scotland’s east coast, the ports of Edinburgh and Dundee are expecting a robust cruise season with a 50% spike in port calls in 2023. The season opened on April 11, when Viking Ocean Cruises’ 930-guest Viking Venus arrived at the Newhaven anchorage near Port Leith, the port for Edinburgh.
At the Port of Aberdeen, new docking facilities at the port’s South Harbour development will enable larger ships to call starting this year. The North Sea port will see 25 cruise ship visits to the $500 million South Harbor. The season opens in late April with the arrival of AIDACruises’ 1,266-guest AIDAaura.
With the popularity of Scottish ports growing, eager cruisers will be glad to have more options for amazing itineraries not just this year, but in the years to come.