Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Plans for growth as first liner of the season docks in Scrabster

The 16,244 tonne Astoria manoeuvres her way around Scrabster harbour, heralding the start of the cruise ship season
The 16,244 tonne Astoria manoeuvres her way around Scrabster harbour, heralding the start of the cruise ship season

The start of the new cruise ship season at Scrabster coincides with plans to step up the port’s involvement in the sector.

A new £15 million development would allow luxury liners to berth next to an 820ft pier.

The proposed refurbishment of Ola pier is at the exploratory stage, with options and detailed costings being worked up before any approaches to potential funders.

Scrabster’s first cruise ship of the summer, the Astoria, arrived yesterday morning.

Buses took the 600 passengers and crew to Thurso and on outings throughout the north after they disembarked from the 16,244 tonne vessel, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

Port manager Sandy Mackie said the harbour had set its sights on growing its cruise business.

He added: “There’s been big growth in overall cruising and, in particular, in respect of the Scottish cruise market.

“All the indications are that the market will continue to grow, with companies buying new vessels and political instability in some parts of the world making north Europe more popular.

“Some places are becoming a victim of their own success in terms of the pressure the arrival of the vessels is putting on infrastructure but we’re not at that stage in Caithness.”

Mr Mackie said the redevelopment of Ola quay was partly geared to help the port accommodate larger cruise ships.

It is intended that vessels will tie up on the seaward side of the new-look pier.

Currently, liners are accommodated at the deep-water berth at Queen Elizabeth pier.

Consultants have been hired to firm up options on a feasibility study, funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Mr Mackie said the intention was to use both piers for cruise traffic, with business growth fuelled by targeting small to middle-sized liners.

“We have been in this business now for over a decade and have demonstrated that we can do a good job,” he said, adding: “We continue to get positive feedback from the cruise companies.

“But the growth has plateaued and the strategy we are pursuing is designed to address the constraints we are working under.”

Cruise ships booked in at Scrabster this year include the recently-built Seabourn Ovation, which at 689ft will become the largest ship to berth at the Caithness port.

Harbour bosses have also just stepped in to accommodate the 15,000-tonne Hamburg on Thursday after a forecast of bad weather off the west coast ruled out its planned visit to Stornoway.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]