Another huge day is expected for the port of Stornoway tomorrow (Thursday July 11th) as one of the biggest ships cruising British waters is scheduled to call into port.

Cunard’s Queen Victoria will be making her maiden visit to the islands, bringing 1,959 passengers and 964 crew for a full day in Lewis and Harris. She’s en route from Reykjavik in Iceland to her home port of Southampton, on a voyage which has already taken in two weeks of fjordland scenery in Norway and around Iceland.

At 964.5 feet long and 205 feet high, the Queen Victoria will overshadow the day’s other visitors, Hebridean Princess and Variety Voyager, regular visitors which will take their place at pier no 1. Meanwhile the Cunard liner will be positioned in the outer anchorage, from where tenders will bring passengers ashore.

Visiting her bridge will be harbourmaster Scott Campbell, who will present the ship’s captain with a plaque commemorating the maiden visit. Highland dancers will also go aboard later in the day to entertain those passengers who choose not to come aboard.

Visitors will be met at the ferry terminal by cruise ambassadors and by members of the Western Isles Tour Guide Association (WITGA) who will accompany coach tours of visitor highlights. WITGA co-ordinator Doro Rieder told that the Queen Victoria is set to have up to 23 tours from the ship, with at least 11 WITGA guides taking English speaking guests on tours and many of the guides heading out twice during the day.

Apart from popular destinations such as Callanish and west Harris, there’s a new tour looking at ‘the life of a highland crofter’ which will take in Air an Lot and the Comunn Eachdraidh in Ness. The castle grounds will also see a lot of guests on Thursday, with guided walks being offered to show off Lews Castle surrounds, and cycle tours planned by other organisations. One group of Chinese visitors have made arrangements for a private full day tour of the Westside and Ness.

Doro Rieder said: “We at WITGA are looking forward to the port call of the Queen Victoria as it is another great opportunity to share our knowledge and love of this island with guests from the UK and abroad. We just hope and pray that we might all see a bit of sunshine on Thursday, as light always makes such a difference to our locations!”

Later in the summer, on Monday September 9th, Queen Victoria’s sister ship Queen Elizabeth, the newest in the Cunard fleet, is scheduled to visit Stornoway on her second visit, the first being in 2016. She cut out a planned trip to Stornoway last summer when engine problems forced her to divert on her homeward-bound journey and visit Ireland instead of stopping into Lewis.

Pictures of the Queen Victoria, including a view of her luxurious interior, are from Cunard.