Cruise Arrivals


Council reveals proposals to control cruise ship arrivals

Cruise liner MV Ambassador. (Orkney Photographic)

Orkney Islands Council (OIC) has revealed proposals which would control the number of cruise ships in the county on any one day.

If supported by councillors, the local authority hopes that the Cruise Booking and Confirmation Policy would address some of the issues caused by Orkney being “one of the most popular destinations for cruise ships in the UK.”

It would do this by putting restrictions on the size of vessels which are allowed to berth.

This isn’t the first time OIC has attempted to place a limit on the cruise industry.

In 2014, the harbour authority announced that, as of 2018, it would “not ordinarily” accept port calls by cruise ships where the combined passenger numbers “could exceed 4,500.”

However, according to that statement, there would be “a level of flexibility” in implementing this.

Now, as part of a report for elected members, OIC states that it has “proven difficult to manage the increase in cruise bookings” in line with that 2014 “recommendation.”

In 2017, the busiest day for cruise ship passengers brought in around 4,800. For 2023, the figure is approximately 6,090.

The local authority’s new proposal sets out a way of managing the number of cruise liner calls at Hatston Pier and the Kirkwall Bay Anchorage.

Rather than limiting the passenger numbers, the policy would set a limit on the size of the cruise ships which are allowed at Hatston Pier and the Kirkwall Bay Anchorage at the same time.

The cruise liner sizes are broken down as follows:

  • Category one: up to 500 passengers.
  • Category two: 501-1,500 passengers.
  • Category three: 1,501-2,500 passengers.
  • Category four: 2501-5,000 passengers.
  • Category five: above 5,000 passengers.

The policy, if implemented, would then control the number of each of these cruise ship types which could stay at the pier and anchorage simultaneously.

The report explains: “The maximum total for Hatston Pier and Kirkwall Bay Anchorage should not exceed a category sum of five.”

For example, only one category five ship would be allowed to berth at any given time. Other examples of acceptable combinations would be a category three ship and a category two ship at the same time, or a category one and a category four.

The proposal is to be discussed by elected members on the harbour authority subcommittee next Tuesday, August 22.