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Cruise ship season

PJ of Hildisvik

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Personally, if I went on a cruise (not that I would ever want to), the hassles of getting ashore and back again in a place like Lerwick would put me right off buying much, or even going ashore at all. If a boat ties up alongside, you simply toddle down the gangplank at your own time and at your leisure, getting aboard a lifeboat, motoring in, climbing up a pier, then repeating the process in reverse later on would put me right off bothering.


Getting on a plane at Sumburgh a bit like mountaineering for you ?


If your here for a weekend then cafes, pubs, culture, even shopping might be on the agenda. But most cruise ships are in for a few hours. Just time to rush round, see an archeologicaly important mess, photo a pony and back onboard for lunch as they sail past Bressay light away to the next stop.


Cruises look to have a stop every day, and sail every night. Shetland is generally a handy distance from other ports. I don't think 'shopping' is going to encourage a longer stay. So, generally we need more specialty things to see / visit. Perhaps make it worthwhile staying longer for passengers doing one tour in the morning and another in the afternoon.

BTW, the cruise company also makes money off the landward tours, so they as keen for this sort of thing as well.


Me thinks you are missing the point. Are you aware of the average age of those participating in cruising these days? Apparently, Royal Caribbean's average age is 48 yet is it not Saga (over 50s brigade?) that are one company that frequents Shetland? I was unfortunate enough to suffer a week onboard Ocean Village several years ago and that vessel allegedly had an average age of 44; however, the majority of the passengers were in their 60s. Now not all of them were super duper fit pensioners with the majority of them finding getting up out of their bar seat a tad difficult ...


... You may not find it difficult to board a cruise ship's 'ferry to shore' vessel but speaking from experience, a lot of the Ocean Village passengers did. Add to that you often have to wait to get on the damn thing too ...


Yes, most cruise ships do organise and sell tours for the various destinations where the liners dock but if, for example, you have 800 passengers onboard, you find that there are 300 places maximum for said excursions - so what do the rest of the passengers do? Now some just can't be bothered to move from their bar seat and are quite happy to get sloshed/sunbathe on the deck but rest assured, after about 30 minutes you'd get the female of a pensioner couple feeling the all-important urge to part with said hubby's retirement fund via his Mastercard. Indeed, many of us female passengers took delight each evening in showing off our daily purchases.


Alternatively, said passengers may decide that they've had enough of walking the entire length of the cruise ship and don't wish to do it for the 58th time but fancy stretching their legs ashore; the food may be absolutely dire onboard and are lured by the smell of fish n chips, so much so that just an hour in Lerwick to get a break from the cruise ship is just what the doctor ordered (Or escape the mega annoying couple who insist on joining them everywhere they go) or they might want to purchase something from a shop (even a packet of ciggies at a more reasonable price) that they can't get onboard - so yep, why can't some shops in Lerwick open? Certain goods can also get "confiscated"/put into safe keeping by the cruise ship operators - they really don't like you purchasing your own booze (Wet towel always came in handy for that one!) and there is the added joy of queuing for security when returning to the vessel (Especially if you've lost your wrist band and passport).


Incidentally, I have been reliably informed that most of the cruise ships visiting Shetland aren't just here for a few hours - they arrive quite early in the mornings and tend to depart early evening.

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So you visualise the scene, liner arrives drops the hook, the punters emerge from the tenders and step ashore and you ask yourself what do they see first?...a pier closed to traffic and turned into a bus park, and a lovely chippy!...


Oh remember there is that fabulous welcome enclosure.. which is akin to a glorified portacabin, lightly used at best. There's not even as much as some craft stalls or the like showcasing Shetland products or small gifts whatsoever.


Not even perhaps a small enclosure with a pony or two (for the passenger that can't or are unable to go on a bus tour) to stroke and feed, Wow...makes it all worthwhile coming then? Bar Fort Charlotte, and Clicky Broch & the museum that's about your lot.


Lerwick has been in the dark ages for far to long, street retailers have a negative closed mindset to new ideas and thinking, all lets stick together and don't dare stick your neck out and take a chance springs to mind.


The long and short of it is our island neighbours know how to promote and sell their assets whilst we are struggling to grasp the concept of what that even means! :roll:



With 16 shops now reported to be closed in da toon, it would be good if the excellent traders stalls which were used at Flavour of Shetland and Tall Ships could be set up where the old toilets were and rented out for a daily fee during the cruise ship season instead of sitting gathering dust in a warehouse in da Ness.


LPA may loose out on a bit of revenue for half a dozen cars for a few months, but if this could help improve the visitors experience and possibly get a few more liners each year it would be worth while.


There may be a few retailers present on the LPA board including the currant chairman who likely look after their own interests, but this could help inject some new bustle into the seafront and Lerwick as a whole.

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  • 11 months later...

I see an updated liner list dated yesterday showing a very poor 43 bookings for this year, got to say the downward trend has started already it seems.


Perhaps when the new fishmarket is ready work could start on a decent deep water quay for the "big ships" near the town centre? It really is needed and jolly quickly as cruise ships just don't like tendering much - that's a fact.


Look at what the expanded Hatston Pier has done for attracting the big modern cruise ships this year and next...hate to say it but i was right LPA, Lerwick, Shetland, your getting by-passed and left behind!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a thought... the old john leask travel agent building would make a perfect spot for cafe/bar/shetland products. Probably make a good profit and actualy have a cafe in a good location with a harbour view... good for the tourists and very close. Any one got the capital...?

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Wish i had, and you make a very good point...


This would seem to be what our near neighbours south are doing next to keep the cruise ships happy.





This would be unthinkable for Shetland to come up with, not just now but at any stage in the future, thinking ahead and outside the box.


The whole Orcadian product is sold hard, slick, and efficiently. As an example even the "new" NorthLink menu is dominated by Orcadian produce for instance. Shetland really needs to wake up.


Facilities are marketed correctly and with forward thinking ideas.


The marketing for here is a shambles..

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Its not just that we need colourful building though . Do visitors really want to see some of the junk that lying around or cars rusted and dumped or do the locals really want this where they live??

Some areas/villages really do need a good tidy up. Visitors passing through places, nice area shame about the mess doesn't leave a good lasting impression.


Grey buidling if they are traditional can look nice, look whole lot better if grass verges were kept reasonbly neat ,litter picked up scrap metal put neatly in a pile is better than seen scattered about.


Some places bodrering scrap junk yards and that what visiors notice.

Especially when so many gardens open and on view, I know its down to individuals and it its up to themselves what they do with their gardens etc some areas are spoilt just by genral lack of thought and mess.

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Having remained pretty steady for a few years now, the number of ships is to fall by around 20% this year.


It would seem like there are more than a few things having an adverse effect on tourism at present:


* Tesco effect on da Street

* Reduced assistance form SIC/increased competition from SIC funded competition

* Long term re-allocation of resources to oil industry (transport + accomodation, etc)

* Uncertainty over Viking Energy project

* Confusion created by having two official tourism bodies for Shetland

* Proposed closure of public toilets


It will take more than knocking down the old toilets to maintain and stop the current decline.

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That Leasks building would make an excellent "Craft Village".


As the owner of the two ponies that wore the cardigans, I have offered to bring them down to meet and greet on behalf of VS. The offer is there.


The Leask's building is in a brilliant location for tourists. I have heard though that the expense of convering it to an eating place are almost prohibitive, due to the regulations to be met.


It would be a good to have your ponies in cardigans meet cruise ships Frances. With all the exposure they and the moon dancing one got I am sure that may tourists will be expecting to see them. More traditional than bagpipes!

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When I said Craft Village, I meant more like selling craft work, jewellery, wool things, felted stuff, potter, woodwork, not really the edible crafts.


As for the ponies, they are both very amenable little equines who would happily meet and greet with or without the knitwear (which belongs to VS). They know. The offer is there. The price is not prohibitive.


But one bagpipe and we are out of there pronto.

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