An early start is expected to a busy 2020 cruise season, with the first of 63 cruise ship visits to Stornoway planned for this year.

And the first caller, scheduled for a visit on 28 February, is a brand new vessel with cutting-edge technology, visiting before her maiden season even commences.

MS Fridtjof Nansen is described as a ‘next generation expedition ship’, whose facilities include three restaurants, indoor and outdoor observation decks and a fully-equipped science centre for research and ‘edutainment’.

Built in Norway’s Kleven shipyard, she’s powered by a revolutionary battery hybrid-powered proplulsion system and is launched this year by cruise line Hurtigruten.

Her maiden visit to Stornoway will take place ahead of her inaugural season, which starts on 1 April, with showcase cruises from London to Liverpool and Liverpool to Portsmouth.

The vessel is one of eight which will make maiden calls to Stornoway this summer, ranging from Ponant’s small French luxury ships, Le Jacques Cartier and Le Bellot, to Holland America’s Veendam, with 1,350 passengers aboard.

The year’s largest visitor is likely to be Cunard’s Queen Victoria, bringing up to 3,000 passengers and crew on Friday 12 June (weather permitting).

Pictures show Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen (right) with her sister ship MS Roald Amundsen in Svalbard during Arctic sea trials (Svalbard Post) and Cunard’s Queen Victoria during her last visit to Stornoway in July 2019 (Chris Murray).