The P&O cruise ship Oriana headed for Stornoway on Wednesday (July 25th) will bring more than 2,500 visitors to swell the town’s population. 1,746 passengers are expected to disembark, most British, but including visitors of 20 other nationalities. The ship also brings 788 crew, many of whom will come ashore during the full-day stop.
They’re part of an adults-only cruise, travelling between Southampton and Rejkjavik in Iceland, and taking advantage of one of the ship’s last British Isles calls before she leaves P&O in August 2019, after 24 years with the fleet.
Passengers will be tendered to shore from the outer anchorage, where Oriana will drop anchor for the whole day on Wednesday, from 9am to 7pm. At nearly 70,000 registered tonnage she’s too long and too deep hulled to come alongside at any of the piers. With 12 decks, she’ll make an imposing sight in the outer harbour.
Passengers will be greeted by Stornoway Port Cruise Ambassadors who will be on hand to offer information on local sites and shops and will also offer maps and leaflets to those that want to walk about the town independently.
19 tour buses will line up during the day to take the visitors on tours of the islands guided by members of the Western Isles Tour Guide Association. Bosta beach and iron-age house, the Isle of Harris and the Ness district will be on the itinerary, while other cruise passengers will be taken across to Uig for RIB tours with SeaTrek, or around the Castle Grounds on a walking tour.
Oriana is the first of a batch of large-scale cruise liners due to swell the islands’ visitor numbers over the next week. She will be followed into Stornoway harbour on Saturday (July 28th) by the German vessel MS Artania and on Thursday next week (August 2nd) by the Fred Olsen vessel Balmoral, each bringing over 1,000 passengers into port.
The largest ship expected this summer is the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth, which could bring up to 2,000 visitors when she arrives on August 21st.
(Some details have been updated from the original post)