Stornoway harbour is due to see the first cruise passengers of the season on Friday (March 29th), when the Portugese-registered vessel Astoria makes the first of a scheduled five visits to Stornoway.

Operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages, who also bring regular visitor the Marco Polo to Stornoway, the Astoria has accommodation for 550 passengers, who will be tendered to shore from the outer anchorage. Her voyage brings her to the Western Isles from Kirkwall in Orkney and she’ll be heading off to Oban in the early evening.

Assuming fair enough weather to bring passengers ashore, they’ll be met by Doro Rieder and Liz Carmichael of the Outer Hebrides Tour Guides Association and those who choose to will be accompanied on coach tours of Harris and the Westside.

Doro said: “All the guides involved that day are looking forward to welcome the first cruise ship passengers of this year and to offer them a professional and enjoyable interpretation of our culture, history and landscape on the tours.”

Astoria’s first and second visit (on April 6th) and the visit of her sister ship Marco Polo on April 8th are expected to start the season off, but the first really busy day of the year is set to be May 9th, when Astoria is joined in Stornoway by the small five-star vessel Hanseatic Nature, and the maiden visit of the Le Champlain, a new super-yacht operated by Ponant.

In 2018 four out of five of the first scheduled cruise visits were affected by bad weather, which caused vessels to change their itinerary or prevented them bringing passengers ashore.

Picture of Astoria: Cruise and Maritime Voyages.