With more than 2,000 passengers and 800 crew, the largest vessel to enter Stornoway Harbour arrived in port yesterday morning.
At 935ft long, the Zuiderdam is the length of three football pitches, and is said to be the largest vessel ever to pass north of the Arnish Point Lighthouse into Lewis’s main harbour.
Port staff had been worried that inclement weather may have delayed the vessel coming into Stornoway bay, but she sailed in shortly before 7.30am yesterday.
Passengers on the Zuiderdam are enjoying a 24-day long Fjords, Highlands and Jewels of the Baltic cruise – and it is the first time Stornoway has been on the itinerary.
The visit from such a large cruise ship is seen as a positive sign of things to come, as Stornoway Port Authority delivers a master plan to include a new marina and deep-water port. It is hoped the improvements will attract cruise traffic from around the world.
Large cruise ships would normally stay at the outer anchorage, but on this occasion she sailed in to stay in the Sandwick anchorage.
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She will remained on the anchorage using Dynamic Positioning, a computer-controlled system to automatically maintain a vessel’s position by using its own propellers and thrusters.
Alex Macleod, Stornoway Port Authority’s chief executive, welcomed the vessel. He said: “This is the largest vessel ever, by some margin, to enter the harbour.
“The visit gives Stornoway an indication of the vessels that will come into our deep-water port and it allows an appreciation of the size of these vessels.
“This follows on from the work of our harbour master, Scott Campbell and our pilots. Without their expertise and knowledge the visit could not have happened.
“They have been working closely with the master of the vessel to ensure this notable milestone in the port’s history could be reached.”
A spokesman said: “Coach tours went to Berneray, Harris and the Callanish Stones. There was a craft fayre on in the town hall as well as the many shops and activities in Stornoway for the many visitors stayed in town – a group also went up to the Lews Castle.”