Stornoway’s eagerly awaited Deep Water Terminal will be ready to offer the cruise industry a new gateway to the Outer Hebrides ahead of the 2024 season.

Work on the transformational facility, with a minimum 10m alongside depth and able to accommodate vessels up to 360m in length, will start in the coming weeks, after Stornoway Port Authority signed a £49million construction contract with building and civil engineering firm McLaughlin and Harvey.

The major development will establish Stornoway as the only port in the north-west of Scotland where large ships can get alongside.

It will enable the islands to realise their full potential as a perfect location for UK cruise itineraries, being an overnight sail to and from Greenock, Invergordon, Orkney and Belfast.

A number of cruise lines have already confirmed calls at the new berth for the 2024 season and Stornoway Port Authority is expecting many more bookings in the months ahead.

The Deep Water Terminal is expected to deliver a major boost to the economy of the Outer Hebrides, by bringing more tourists than ever before to Lewis and Harris to experience at first hand their renowned landscapes, history, nature and unique mix of Scottish, Viking and Gaelic heritage.

Among the islands’ many world-famous attractions are Harris Tweed, the 5,000-year-old Lewis Chessmen, traditional Blackhouse villages and some of the most picturesque and emptiest sandy beaches on the planet.

The new berth will be within walking distance of the bustling centre of Stornoway, the main town and capital of the Outer Hebrides, but shuttle busses will also be available for cruise ship passengers.

Alex MacLeod, chief executive of Stornoway Port Authority, said: “It is fantastic to be able to confirm that this facility will be ready well in time for the 2024 cruise season, providing a new gateway for visitors to the Outer Hebrides.

“Our new terminal will enable Stornoway to welcome the world to our wonderful islands to fully enjoy their unique hospitality, culture, history, mystique and many famed landmarks.”

Mr MacLeod, who will be attending the Seatrade Cruise Global 2022 event in Miami this month, continued: “The Deep Water Terminal represents a very major investment in our infrastructure to serve the cruise industry and other sectors.

“After a number of years of planning and hard work along with our partners, which included overcoming the challenges presented by the Covid pandemic, it is very exciting to have reached the construction stage of this vital project.

“It will bring transformative and sustainable change to the economy of the Outer Hebrides.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, recently described the development of the Deep Water Terminal as a “game-changer” for the islands’ economy and aspirations to grow industries including the cruise sector in Scotland.

Confirmation that the new berth will be operational in time for the 2024 season was also quickly welcomed by Ambassador Cruise Line, whose ships are already regular visitors to the Outer Hebrides.

Michelle Lupino, Ambassador’s Head of Destination Management, said: “Stornoway is in a perfect location for our popular British Isles and Ireland Discovery sailings.

“We’ve waited a long time and are delighted to see this new facility at Stornoway in time for the 2024 season.

“The islands of Lewis and Harris have much to interest our guests in terms of history and nature and thanks to this new development, we are now able to look at additional overnight calls, to take in the local folklore and evening entertainment.”

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