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New dawn for North East Scotland’s tourism as first large cruise vessel arrives in Aberdeen

AidaAURA, the first cruise ship to dock at Aberdeen South Harbour Credit: Derek Ironside /Newsline Media

3 May 2023

The 2023 cruise season is well underway at the expanded Port of Aberdeen, with a wide range of new cruise vessels and up to 31,000 guests arriving in the city.

There are 39 cruise calls currently scheduled from May and October and the benefit to local businesses will be significant. Cruise calls to Scotland generate an average spend of £134 per passenger per call (source: Cruise Scotland).

Aberdeen’s cruise season started on the 2 May with the simultaneous arrivals of the eye-catching 202m long AIDAaura into South Harbour, and the NG Resolution into North Harbour.

Guests made their way onto pre-booked excursions to visit castles and distilleries, play a round of golf, and see the sights and sounds of Royal Deeside. Hundreds of guests also utilised the efficient shuttle bus services to make their way to Aberdeen city centre for shopping, museums and more.

Port of Aberdeen will welcome an exciting assortment of cruise ships – encompassing traditional tall ships, ultra-modern marvels, and large commercial cruise liners – which will ensure a captivating experience for both locals and maritime enthusiasts alike.

The port is well positioned to become a major player in the UK cruise industry. Port of Aberdeen has been working with partners including leading tourism agency VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen Inspired Business Improvement District, Visit Scotland and the local authorities to position Aberdeen City and Shire as a prime tourist destination. Aberdeenshire was recently named by Good Housekeeping as best place to visit in 2023.

Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive, Port of Aberdeen, said: “It is fantastic to see the first cruise call arrive at South Harbour, which marks a new dawn for tourism in the North East of Scotland. While the tourism industry is still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, we’re very encouraged with the number of calls to the port secured for this year and next.

“Port of Aberdeen is a gateway to the amazing attractions of North East Scotland. We look forward to growing our work with the international cruise industry in the coming years, as tens of thousands guests experience the incredible scenery and culture that the region has to offer.”

Port of Aberdeen has a proven track record welcoming boutique and expedition cruise ships to North Harbour, and now extends that expertise at its transformational South Harbour development.

The new deepwater harbour, which is scheduled for completion in Q2 2023, significantly increases the port’s capacity for cruise calls and will be able to accommodate cruise ships up to 300m in length.

Chris Foy, Chief Executive, VisitAberdeenshire, said: “The arrival of the first cruise ship into South Harbour marks a step change for tourism in the North-east as we welcome larger vessels and more passengers than ever before.

“Disembarking guests – who are met by our Welcome to Aberdeenshire volunteers – will have a wide range of experiences to enjoy during their time on our shores, planting the seed for future travel back to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for a longer stay.”