Cruise Ships

Scandinavian by Heritage - Nordic by Influence - Scottish by Design


Kirkwall Orkney - United Kingdom's most popular cruise ship destination


For over 35 years, Orkney has been welcoming Cruise Ships to its shores. Such has been the growing popularity of Orkney as a Cruise Ship destination that it has become Scotland's favorites Cruise destination and the most popular cruise ship destination in the United Kingdom with an average of 80 ships calling annually carrying almost 80,000 passengers and 25,000 crew. Growth in Orkneys cruise industry has been exponential in the last five years with passenger numbers increasing by almost 300% and gross tonnage by the same percentage. It is Orkneys unique location for itineraries in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Round Britain Cruises and to Greenland and Iceland, plus the fact that Kirkwall has Scotlandís longest commercial berth at Hatston measuring 285 meters with a 10.5 meter draft.

In 2011, Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital city was named the best cruise port in the UK by the website.

In 2013, Kirkwall was runner up in the Seatrade Insider Global Awards in the Port of the Year category.

Three main piers located at Kirkwall, Hatston just outside Kirkwall and Stromness, Orkneys second town all offer excellent berthing facilities for cruise ships with anchorage also popular in Kirkwall Bay. The berth at Hatston has been extended to 385 metres making Hatston pier Scotland's longest deep-water commercial berth.

Variety is certainly key when it comes to shore excursion itineraries with a World Heritage site dating back to 3100BC which includes Skara Brae, a Stone Age Village (circa 3100BC), Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, The Ring of Brodgar (Orkneys own Stonehenge, circa 2000BC) and the Standing Stones of Stenness.

Orkney is equally famous and important as a habitat for birds and wildlife, with 19 highest level European Special Protection Areas or Special Areas of Conservation and one RAMSAR (International Wetlands) designation, set within around 750,000 acres of actively managed land as wildlife reserves.

Amongst Orkney's War Relics there is an Italian Chapel constructed and hand painted by Italian Prisoners of War, a Naval Museum with war relics and artifacts, in Lyness on the beautiful Island of Hoy, and Scapa Flow, the resting place of the Royal Oak and the scuttled German Fleet in World War 2 where there is excellent diving in 25 metres of sheltered waters.

Orkney boasts:

  • Balfour Castle, Britain's most northerly inhabited castle.
  • St Magnus Cathedral, Britain's most Northerly Cathedral.
  • The Earls and Bishops Palaces, Britain's most Northerly former Royal Residences.
  • Highland Park, Britain's most Northerly distillery producing arguably Scotland's finest Single Malt.

There is a wealth of local arts and crafts shops across many of the Islands and Orkney is renowned for its local quality fish and meat products which are sought by many of the best restaurants across the UK.