'Record' cruise year for Scottish ports

image source, Port of Cromarty Firth
image captionThe massive MSC Meraviglia visited Scotland earlier this year

Cruise Scotland has reported a record year - and said Scottish ports are ahead of target as they hope to attract a million passengers annually.

The industry organisation said 825 ships brought 794,500 passengers to ports around the country this year.

Passenger numbers are expected to climb to more than 920,000 in 2019.

Cruise Scotland originally hoped to reach a million passengers a year by 2029 - but now say that figure could be reached within the next few years.

Established in 2008, Cruise Scotland's membership includes 17 ports, two major ground handlers and six associate members in the tourism sector.

'Remarkable season'

Cruise Scotland chairman Rob Mason, said: "It's been another remarkable cruise season, with the trend in growth continuing - vessel arrivals were up 8.4% and passengers by 16.75%, compared with 2017.

"We are committed to building on the achievements of the past decade by attracting more cruise ships and increasing the contributions to the Scottish economy."

This year Shetland saw a record 90,000 cruise liner visitors, a 78% increase on 2017.

This was despite the final scheduled arrival of the year, Marco Polo, being forced by poor North Sea weather to bypass the port.

Among the cruise ships to visit Scotland this year was the giant MSC Meraviglia, which stopped over in Invergordon, Kirkwall and Greenock.

The ship can accommodate more than 5,000 passengers and has about 1,500 crew.

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