News that Moray Council has received interest from cruise ship firms to add Buckie to their global list of destinations has raised hopes of new waves of tourists sailing in.
Officials say companies have already been in touch inquiring about stopping at the historic fishing port.
They say the level of interest from cruise ships is proportionate to the capacity that Buckie harbour can accommodate.
So it’s not likely we’re going to see some of the MSC behemoths that sail the Mediterranean navigating past Portessie any time soon.
The Press and Journal has spoken to Visit Moray Speyside about likely destinations for passengers and examined the numbers to see what could be possible at Moray’s biggest port.
What size of ships can Buckie harbour take?
A brochure published by Moray Council says the maximum vessel length at Buckie harbour is 280ft.
The MSC Bellissima, which is one the largest cruise ships in the world, boasts an LED screen nearly as big as the size of boat the Moray port can welcome.
To put it into a more local context, the Port of Cromarty Firth will this year be visited by the Queen Mary 2, which is about 1,100ft – about four times the size Buckie can berth.
Meanwhile, the Port of Aberdeen, which joined the cruise market only recently, advertises it can also welcome vessels up to nearly 1,000ft.
However, there is a market for cruise ships significantly smaller that would be able to manoeuvre their way into Buckie harbour.
The Hebridean Princess, which was chartered by the Queen, has a busy schedule across Scotland this year with destinations including Skye, Gairloch, Orkney and Shetland from departures in Oban and Inverness.
At 236ft she fits neatly within Moray Council’s limit for Buckie and has cabins for up to 48 guests, roughly one coach-load.
It is common practice for larger cruise ships to use small vessels to transport passengers into ports they are too big to enter.
However, with some of the ships due to visit Port of Cromarty Firth this year carrying more than 4,000 passengers – it is likely the number would overwhelm what’s possible at Buckie harbour.
What would passengers do during their visit?
Cruise ship passengers are not necessarily confined to the town of the port when they disembark.
Destinations traditionally organise coaches to take guests on excursions varying distances from the harbour.
Trips from the port in Aberdeen can include Balmoral, golf courses on the Aberdeenshire coast and filming locations for Local Hero and Peaky Blinders.
The Press and Journal spoke to Visit Moray Speyside to learn what could be on the bucket list for Buckie cruise ship passengers.
Chief executive Gemma Cruickshank said: “Moray Speyside has a variety of attractions that might interest cruise ship passengers looking for something a bit different.”
Buckie is at the end of the Speyside Way and is ideally positioned tap into visitor centres from some of the most famous whisky distilleries in the world.
Strathisla Distillery in Keith, the home of Chivas Regal, is only 12 miles away from the town.
Meanwhile, Macallan is only slightly further away near Craigellachie at 20 miles and Glenfiddich in Dufftown is only 22 miles away.
Mrs Cruickshank said: “When it comes to food and drink, we’ve got some local producers offering great stuff to our hotels and restaurants. Moray Speyside is a laid-back yet memorable destination for those seeking a unique cruise experience.”
This year Elgin Cathedral is celebrating its 800th anniversary and already welcomes many coach tours every year.
However, it’s not the only historic attraction with Brodie Castle, Pluscarden Abbey and the Culloden battlefield only short drives away.
Mrs Cruickshank said: “We are enriched with local history and have some great museums that tell the story of Moray and its people.”
The Moray coastline varies from the glorious sandy beaches at Lossiemouth and Findhorn to the rugged rocks towards Aberdeenshire.
Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie is less than five miles from Buckie harbour and is ideally located next to Cullen, home of the world famous Cullen skink.
And to the south is Tomintoul and Glenlivet in the Cairngorm National Park, which are only about one hour away from the coast.
Mrs Cruickshank added: “To add some more unique attractions, you might also consider highlighting our agricultural heritage, outdoor activities like hiking and biking, and the welcoming local communities that make Moray Speyside unique.”