Ambassador Ambition arrives in Stornoway, as showcased by the Port Authority's LinkedIn page. Credit: Stornoway Port Authority

First cruise ship docks at new Stornoway Deep Water port

Author: Calum Brown

Published on:

Updated on:

The aptly-named Ambassador Ambition became the first cruise ship to berth at Stornoway’s new Deep Water Terminal on April 1. Nearly 1,200 passengers descended on the town, making it no April Fools joke – the future for Hebridean tourism is here

Following a decade of debate, financing and construction, Stornoway’s new deep-water port has now welcomed its first official visitor – Ambassador Ambition.

The 48,000 gross-tonne MS Ambition arrived in Lerwick at 7am on April 1, 2024, before departing for Belfast at 1pm the following day, disgorging 1200 passengers upon the Hebridean shores of Scotland's new cruising hotspot.

It will be a further three weeks before the next sizeable cruise vessel arrives following Ambassador’s inaugural visit, permitting the final stages of port construction to continue throughout April.

The next cruise ship to employ Stornoway’s Deep Water Terminal will be Seabourn Venture on April 24, subsequently followed by Oceania Sirena on April 26 and CFC (Compagnie Francaise De Croisieres) Renaissance with the sunrise of May 4. Ambassador Ambience will arrive on May 9, with Fred Olsen’s Borealis gracing the Terminal on May 10.

Other notable ships arriving throughout the 2024 season include Holland America Line’s stylish MS Rotterdam, Seven Sea’s Splendor and Azamara Quest. And this is only the beginning, with hopes that Cunard, P&O and Princess will grace Stornoway during the 2025 cruise season.

The locals of Stornoway have plenty to gain with the new cruise port. Credit: Shutterstock

Locals benefit from new cruise terminal

There has long been concern that Stornoway would struggle to cope with swathes of culture-hungry cruisegoers. The Hebridean infrastructure has also been under the watchful eye of economists since the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the island communities with abject force.

Local attitude to the incoming armada of tourist vessels has been mixed, with anxiety over environmental and wildlife issues amid distress about Stornoway’s viability as a mainstream cruise port. On the flip side, others have welcomed the prospect of further business for local shops and investment potential for domestic amenities.

One such business that’s already feeling the benefit of Stornoway’s Deep Water Terminal is Lochs Motors, which has signed a contract to shuttle passengers from the new quayside to the town’s historic centre, as reported by the Stornoway Gazette.

The company has acquired double-decker buses to transport cruisegoers over the short journey, with a freshly-laid tarmac road leading to Cronwell Street Quay ready for action by mid-April.

Further development efforts will undoubtedly improve the local infrastructure, injecting much-needed revenue into a heritage-driven area of Scotland still recovering from Governmental injustice and economic strife.

The port may still have been under construction as Ambassador Ambition threw her mooring line, but the symbolism is clear – Stornoway’s future has arrived.

MSC Poesia first graced Stornoway on July 5, 2023. Credit: Stornoway Port Authority
Most recent articles

About Calum Brown

Calum holds a deep interest in all things heritage and remains one of Britain’s most enthusiastic historians.

As a seasoned journalist, he has spent considerable time abroad and relishes all forms of transport. Shipping is in the blood, with a family connection to Stena Line embedded in his DNA. He also refuses to admit that 21st Century music exists.

Calum has developed a skill for bringing history alive, and always insists on making heritage accessible for everyone.