PORT of Cromarty Firth in the Highlands expects to welcome a record number of cruise ships this year as the tourism industry recovers from the slump caused by the pandemic.
Some 115 vessels, carrying around 200,000 passengers, are scheduled to call at the port in Invergordon in what will be the first full season since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
The number of vessels set to visit the port this season is significantly higher than the previous record which was set in 2019. Some 103 vessels carrying 167,000 passengers called at the port that year.
The bookings for this year should provide a valuable boost for leisure businesses in the Highlands, which felt the impact of a big drop in visitor numbers amid the lockdowns imposed during the pandemic.
The cruise industry is reckoned to contribute around £18 million annually to the Highlands economy.
Port of Cromarty Firth cruise manager Alison McGuire said it was very exciting to be looking forward to a busy cruise season.
“Up until 2020, we had seen a steady increase in the number of cruise passengers visiting Invergordon and it’s good to see a return to that after two highly challenging years for the industry and the many businesses that benefit from it,” she noted.
Ms McGuire said more than 20 brand new vessels are set to visit for the first time, along with many familiar ones.
The 2022 season is due to start on April 5, with the arrival of the Viking Venus, carrying 900 passengers and 460 crew.
The Emerald Princess, which is due to visit in May, will be the largest liner to use the port during the year, carrying 3,300 passengers.
The season will end on October 9, when the Norwegian Dawn, with 2,500 passengers and 1,100 crew, is to visit.
Port of Cromarty Firth expects to benefit from the surge in windfarm development off Scotland.