Ross-shire Journal

MV Marella Explorer 2 berthed at Port of Cromarty Firth on Sunday. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

Cruise ship return to Invergordon offers hope for the future.

The return of cruise ships to the Highlands has left local councillors hoping it is only the start of a wider reopening for the sector.

The 72,000 tonne Marella Explorer 2 sailed into the Port of Cromarty Firth on Sunday, the first cruise ship to call at Invergordon since 2019.

It was the first of three calls it is due to make to the port this summer, carrying only British passengers and restricted to British ports.

In addition, under current Covid restrictions excursion bubbles are in place with passengers only permitted to go ashore for organised trips.

On that basis the benefit to the ports at which any cruise ships call is minimal.

Cromarty Firth councillor Maxine Morley-Smith said: “It is time we allowed our businesses to get some customers from the cruise sector.

“The British ships are of course much smaller than the international monsters we see.

“It’s a gradual ease into it though, as I understand that 2022 will be a bumper season.”

Highland Council tourism committee chairman Gordon Adam said: “It is very good to see the cruise ships return to Invergordon and to welcome passengers to a brief taste of the Highlands. We hope they enjoy their time here and will return in the future for a longer visit”.