The first cruise ship of the year is due to berth at Lerwick Harbour on Thursday (14 May) at the start of a busy visitor season for the Shetland port. The Deutschland will dock at Holmsgarth with more than 400 passengers, en route from Bergen to Edinburgh.

A total of 49 cruise ships are booked to call at Lerwick before the end of September, with the increasing number of larger cruise ships now using the port including the first grossing over 100,000 tonnes. The total figure of 1,000,000 gross tonnes in a season could be passed for the first time.

The arrival of larger vessels is also reflected in increased passenger numbers - with approximately 26,000 due, up around 9,000 on last year.

This summer will see the arrival of the 1,000th cruise ship since a visit was first recorded in Port Authority records in 1928.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “The increases in vessel numbers and size and in passengers compared with 2008 means we are looking forward to a great season which will also bring special milestones for the cruise industry at Lerwick, with the passengers providing a welcome contribution to the local economy.”

The popularity of Lerwick as a port-of-call for cruise ships is also seen in the line-up for 2010, with 24 vessels scheduled to date.

Lerwick Port Authority is a member of the recently-launched Cruise Scotland marketing organisation.