Port of Aberdeen has had a record-breaking 2023 cruise season, but even as the season ends, eyes are already looking forward to the very promising 2024 bookings and projections that are poised to surpass this year’s amazing numbers.

Positive responses from local businesses are a welcome reaction to the increased cruise traffic, and cruise guests have a great deal to look forward to when visiting the welcoming Scottish port of call.

While the sailing season in eastern Scotland is just from May through October, Port of Aberdeen welcomed 43 cruise calls during those six months with a variety of cruise lines, itineraries, and ship sizes.

“South Harbour has moved Aberdeen into the premier league of UK cruise ports and is transformational for tourism in the North East of Scotland,” said Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive, Port of Aberdeen. “More than 250 cruise ships sail past Aberdeen every year, and we want to attract as much of that business to the port as we can.”

The South Harbour facilities debuted in spring 2023. Local businesses, including retailers, restaurants, tour guides, and visitor sites, have all benefited from the increase in tourism brought by cruise ships. Port authorities estimate that with each cruise call, passengers spend an average of £134 (approximately $165 USD) each.

Cruise Ship in Aberdeen, UK

“Each ship that arrives at the new South Harbour brings a massive influx of visitors into the heart of the Granite City, all of them enjoying – and boosting – the great shops, restaurants, bars and attractions we have,” said Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired.

“Many of our levy payers have told us businesses is booming, with some delighted to report their best season in several years, thanks to the arrival of thousands of passengers.”

Local authorities note that VisitAberdeenshire’s “Welcome to Aberdeenshire” volunteering program has been extraordinarily helpful in directing cruise guests and ensuring they have a phenomenal visit to the port city. These volunteers greet cruise guests on the dock and assist with directions, local recommendations, and a general friendly face to ensure a positive experience for visitors.

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“Since we greeted our first cruise ship to the new South Harbour last May, we have had the enormous pleasure of welcoming thousands of visitors from far and wide to our new gateway to the city and region,” said the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Dr David Cameron.

“The arrival of cruise ships and their passengers in Aberdeen has given such a boost both economically and in terms of growing the city’s reputation as a welcoming and attractive tourist destination,” Cameron continued.

“For me, one of the most pleasing aspects has been the positive feedback from visitors about their time in Aberdeen and I am sure they will have gone home spreading the word to families and friends about what our city and region has to offer.”

In comparison to the 43 ship visits in 2023, 55 calls are already scheduled for the 2024 season, with more likely to be added as cruise lines finalize itineraries in the coming months.

Next year, ships from AIDA Cruises, Silversea, Azamara Cruises, Oceania Cruises, and others are already booked for Aberdeen.

Cruise Ship in Aberdeen, UK (Photo Courtesy: Port of Aberdeen)

AIDAsol and AIDAdiva are both already scheduled for port visits and will be among the longest, largest ships ever to dock in Aberdeen South Harbour. AIDAdiva will bring 2,050 guests when she visits, while AIDAsol will bring 2,174 cruise travelers to Aberdeen.

What will 2024 bring for cruise guests to the beautiful Scottish port? The Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the extensive gardens of Duthie Park, stunning local architecture, cobblestone streets, challenging golf, and more await cruise guests visiting the growing destination.

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