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Scandinavian by Heritage - Nordic by Influence - Scottish by Design

Kirkwall, Orkney

United Kingdom's Most Popular Cruise Ship Destination

Destination Information, please visit

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 favourite Cruise destination and the most popular cruise ship destination in the United Kingdom with an average of 140 ships calling annually carrying over 100,000 passengers and 30,000 crew. Growth in Orkney’s 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 Orkney’s unique location for itineraries in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, the Round Britain Cruises and to Greenland and Iceland, that has encouraged this growth, plus the fact that Kirkwall has Scotland’s longest deep-water , commercial berth at Hatston measuring 385 metres with a 10.5 metre draft.


The three main berths are located at Kirkwall, within walking distance to the town centre, Hatston just outside Kirkwall where a complimentary shuttle bus is provide into town, and Stromness, Orkney’s second town all offer excellent berthing facilities for cruise ships with anchorage also popular in Kirkwall Bay.

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 artefacts, 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 1 where there is excellent diving in 25 metres of sheltered waters.

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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.

Latest News
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19 Jul 2017


The landscape is soon to change in Scapa Flow with the accommodation rig vessels Safe Boreas and Safe Zephyrus, owned and operated by Prosafe, leaving for the North Sea and Norway...


31 Aug 2016

Company to explore decommissioning plans for Lyness

Orkney Islands Council is giving a specialist company the opportunity to investigate Lyness’ potential as a base for North Sea oil and gas decommissioning work. The project is at an early...


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Orkney Islands Council, Marine Services, Harbour Authority Building, Scapa, Orkney, KW15 1SD