Invergordon is the top Scottish cruise port and the third most popular in the UK, new figures revealed yesterday.
A study by industry body Cruise Britain showed the Easter Ross port handled 89,770 transit passengers last year, second only to Guernsey and Dover.
Cromarty Firth Port Authority chief executive Bob Buskie said: “The release of these figures by Cruise Britain are of incredible importance, not just to the skilled team here of pilots and marine crew, working to make the statistics a reality, but they are so important for the towns and businesses that benefit directly and indirectly from the tourism brought to the Highlands through this port. For Invergordon to be the third busiest cruise transit port in the UK and Scotland’s leading cruise facility demonstrates how strategically important the Cromarty Firth is for Scotland and is a great testament to the dedication and hard work by Captain Iain Dunderdale, our cruise development manager.”
Capt Dunderdale said: “We have benefited from the trend of larger cruise ships, capable of carrying thousands of passengers. We also benefit from the depth of water available and sheltered conditions. Added to this is the Highland welcome, our proximity to world-class tourism destinations and the welcome given by residents of Invergordon itself, who are rightly proud.”
The figures were released just two weeks before the port opens for the 2014 cruise season.
The Marco Polo is set to berth in the Cromarty Firth on Sunday, April 6, the first of 56 cruise ships which plan to visit between then and September.
This year will see seven maiden voyage to Invergordon, including a visit by the Queen Victoria, due to berth on May 26. The Ruby Princess is set to be largest ship, carrying 3,200 passengers. This ship will pay its maiden call to the port on May 19 and will visit on nine occasions during the season.