Record-Breaking Year On The Cards For Cruise Visits In Scilly

minerva cruise ship and harbour2016 is set to be another record-breaking year for cruise ship visits to Scilly.

St Mary’s Harbourmaster Dale Clark says they already have 48 tentative bookings, more than at this time last year.

In 2015, there were 43 visits by cruise ships with over 18,000 passengers.

And while the final list is likely to change, he says he doesn’t expect that number to drop significantly.

In fact, he says more visits could be added with the potential for a few new ships to make a stop in the islands.

The list of dates has been sent out to food, transport and activity providers to allow them to prepare for the passengers and to pick up on any problems with the tides.

Dale says the cruise ship business has been increasing year-on-year in Scilly, which is a fantastic achievement at a time when Visit South West are warning that the market is levelling out or falling elsewhere in the region.

Last year, Falmouth saw a decrease in the number of ships visiting.

Dale says Scilly’s location “sells itself” and is also good value for cruise operators.

But he says our success is also because everyone on the islands does a huge amount of work to make sure that the visits go as smoothly as possible and that the passengers enjoy their time here.

And there could be another record broken on 12th July.

That’s when three ships, Magellan, Minerva and Corinthian, will be mooring with 1,600 passengers in total and potentially the largest number arriving on the islands in a single day.



40 Responses to Record-Breaking Year On The Cards For Cruise Visits In Scilly

  1. John Nicholls February 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Going back to the Quarry comments. I was born at Bants Carn,1939,and grew up there.Father was a farm laborour for Mrs.Birkenshaw,she built the Hospital in memory of her husband,we digress.The Rock was quarried by dyanimite blasting.Gee Hicks who did the blasting would come around a short while before and warn Father .Then the rocks would come flying ,some very near misses !! Today’s inconveniences are not quite as bad.

  2. countrydweller February 4, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Seeing that many of you have mentioned the word ” Pollution” I would like to mention the amount of noise that is produced by the Quarry at Pendrethan now that they have been given permission to crush stone etc. I have walked in that area on many days when they are in operation and the noise can be heard from the Golf Course around to Watermill. Bar Point and that area of St Marys has always been an area of peace and quiet where one could get away from everything. When the Quarry was in use many years ago the noise produced by the operator was much less intrusive than the banging of metal against metal. Come the summer, I think a lot of our visitors are in for a shock when they go down to the once peaceful beach at Bar Point.

    • Salop Dave February 4, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Wo wo – sounds like won’t be able 2 find a hideaway away from all the cruise shippers at Bar Point after all! Following all the commotion from building work you’ve had going in recent years – now this! Feet … shooting etc. Have you got a rival Visit Cornwall bod or some other competitor beavering away on the inside trying to wreck Scilly tourism?! Someone with big time grudge?? Hoping all building noise had finished and we were looking forward 2 booking this summer BUT perhaps need 2 think again……..!!

    • Ray O'Sunshine February 5, 2016 at 8:22 am

      Ah yes, I fondly remember the old rubber jawed stone crusher the near silent ten ton electric quarry lorry gliding silently up the billiard table smooth McFarland’s Down road with the happy second home residents scattering rose petals ahead of it!

  3. Ann and Barry February 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    We have been regular visitors to the Islands for 25 years (not that long compared to many others) and one of the attractions has always been their relative peace and tranquility. We accept that progress is inevitable (even when we don’t appreciate the increased road traffic on St. Mary’s!) but have also experienced the capacity issues on the quay when large cruise ships are visiting. The ever cheerful boatmen appear to be at full stretch on such days and we’ve noticed that some of the “circular” trips have been curtailed in favour of the “directs”. Add some inclement sea conditions into the mix and you can struggle to get out and around some of the inhabited islands during your holiday. We would dare to suggest that resident holidaymakers are your bread and butter during the summer months even if we appreciate your need to maximise summer income for the leaner off-peak times!

  4. Beverley White February 2, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    As a visitor for 30 years mainly in peak season I have never had any problem with visiting cruise ships spoiling my stay. It has always amazed me how easy it is to find a quiet corner of any island and enjoy the beauty and peace of Scilly. It will not stop me visiting and I wish the visitors from the cruise ships an enjoyable time and hope they will think about returning for a longer stay that will benefit all the business on every island.

    • David February 3, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      At last. A sensible response. That’s one of the joys of Scilly – there is normally somewhere quiet. How many of these cruise passengers will go to St Agnes or St Martins. How many of them will even think of going on a beach on Tresco or St Marys. Stop over-reacting people.

      • Dave C February 4, 2016 at 11:15 am

        Interesting you see that as “a sensible response”. Islanders need to look at all responses and consider very carefully where they are going with cruise ship visits. As UK holidays go, visiting Scilly is expensive and takes a long time and extra effort to get to. I believe that most are willing to pay this premium in cost and time due to the special nature of the islands which doesn’t include the effects of visiting cruise ships,
        Living in the north of England, if I want to see a bunch of cruise ships and their here today gone tomorrow (i.e. low spending) passengers, I can pop down to Liverpool in less than an hour, I don’t need to spend thousands of pounds visiting Scilly.
        One person on here commented that they sometimes wonder where all the cruise ship passengers have disappeared to. Its to be hoped islanders won’t end up wondering where all of the resident visitors and their money have disappeared too as well.
        I’m not suggesting no cruise ships at all – but three in one day is crazy.

  5. Ian T. February 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Correct me if my memory is failing but didn’t the Scillonian bring up to 400 day trippers every day in the good old days? Most of the cruise ships visiting Scilly are relatively small (well under 1000 passengers) and spread their passengers across at least two islands and, tides permitting, probably over morning and afternoon excursions. As a former gift/craft shop owner who always opened when the Scillonian or a cruise ship, arrived on a Sunday, we welcomed the chance to give the visitors the opportunity to shop for souvenirs whilst making a few extra pounds to see us through the dead winter months.

  6. Dave C February 1, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I’m visiting Scilly for two weeks in July 2016. I booked this ages ago and now find that I will be there on the notorious 12th July. Would I have booked if I’d known before. Quite simply no. The owners of the Bell Rock are completely right. Let cruise ships wreck what Scilly is all about and the real tourism business that earns money for the islanders (and not the DofC) will quickly disappear.

  7. al February 1, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Being involved in managing properties on the islands, these comments on cruise ships are disturbing. The impact of such large numbers on our regular visitors is easily understood but I was unaware of the pollution and the impact on the environment. Googling ‘cruise ships pollution’ makes for a troubling read, particularly with Scilly being so small. Apart from damage to marine life, swimmers, water sports or those bringing children for a paddle on our fabulous beaches could easily be put off. Both Island Partnership, for business and the Wildlife Trust, for the environment need to address this problem by drastically reducing the numbers. Crowded and polluted beaches are not great selling points.

  8. Pensioner January 31, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Dave you ask do we call up the Navy? Just need some rational thinking between the IP and Harbour office. The Harbourmaster can say no to requests from cruise ship companies .Their job is to generate income . Answers your question!

  9. Numbers January 31, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Personally, the cruise ships make no impact to my life whatsoever so they can come and go as they please for all I care. But it is worth noting, for those concerned about doomsday on the 12th July, what is the difference between that influx of people and gig weekend? If anything, gig weekend is worse for density because most people are confined to Hugh Town. So as Adam said, you could quite easily loose 2,300 people spread across all islands and the locals/tourists will be none the wiser, plus I doubt they will all come ashore in one hit and storm Porthmellon in a plethora of blue rinse, zimmer frames and pearls.

    • Jann February 1, 2016 at 11:01 am

      …because “gig weekend” is in what was a quiet time of year (and that’s why it is in April/May, the only time you can hold it) = what was a two week slump between Easter and Summer season starting..
      This is Mid Summer and 2000 more body’s on top of gig weekend totals.
      You are obviously not taking part (and don’t need to?) in Community life.

  10. Scilly aged resident. January 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    How sad for Scilly
    The Duchy don’t seem to understand the ethos of Scilly,or why the vital resident visitors come.

  11. Salop Dave January 30, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    List would be useful for us too so we can take avoiding action and for many others if this forum is anything to go by. Perhaps Scilly Today could publish one. More importantly, if the Bell Rock is so concerned, then it must impact badly on many other businesses in Scilly too. Someone needs to get a grip here and quickly for the sake of businesses that depend on ‘bread and butter tourists’ like us before we find some other ‘paradise.’

    • Paul February 1, 2016 at 1:15 am

      I was put off visiting the islands last year, it would have been my 9th holiday lasting a week or more on St Mary’s, when I read about the massive planned increase in cruise ship visits. In view of the news that the number/size of ships are likely to increase again this year I will regrettably be booking elsewhere.

  12. Scillophile January 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    For someone who is a yearly (sometimes twice a year) visitor to Scilly, I have never previously considered scheduling my visits to avoid cruise ships – but now I have !
    Where can one find the definitive information for these visiting vessels, so that in future I can plan my visits with the minimum of ships due ? Does anyone know ? I will certainly be avoiding 12th July 2016.

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins January 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      I should ask the harbour master and he might email you a list if you are that worried. On the other hand very few are landed to St.Martins , Bryher or St.Agnes so you could go there on visiting days.
      I have to say that on any given day the pleasure boats can drop of several hundred people and within a few minutes they all disperse to the point you wonder where they have been hiding all day when they leave. Another point is that although cruise ships make limited impacts on most incomes , they do benefit the boatmen which allows them to run the service at less profitable times.
      Personally I think the whole thing is hyped up by IP to boost their propaganda numbers!
      For anyone thinking of visiting it’s worth remembering that many places staff up for the season at easter despite the slump between then and the summer holidays and are open regardless as opposed to say October when it loses money to stay open and people are generally pretty shattered from the season.

    • Alice January 30, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      cruisetimetables.com gives a list of destinations for cruise ships in 2016- Scilly is listed as Tresco in the United Kingdom listing

  13. Somer January 30, 2016 at 10:41 am

    12th July – 2,300 cruise ship passengers – time to leave the islands. It’s bad enough when one large ship is in.

    Good to see the comments here – shows that very few Scillonian people welcome/benefit these visits. In the long run, it will put off the real tourists (those who stay for several days) from coming.

    • Fred Up January 31, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      I’m very surprised that you feel that sixteen comments, not all of which have been written by residents, is a sufficient number to confirm the opinion that cruise ships are not welcomed on the islands.
      We, those of us lucky enough to live here, are glad to see any visitor and hope that they will spread the word about that Scilly is a great destination.

      • Somer February 1, 2016 at 1:06 pm

        Do you not think that there comes a point where the number of visitors is detrimental to exactly what is attractive about Scilly?

        • Fred Up February 2, 2016 at 8:38 pm

          Do you count yourself in that number Somer?

          • Somer February 3, 2016 at 7:36 am

            I think you’re being argumentative without trying to appreciate the point I’m making. It doesn’t matter who the individual visitors are (could be me, you, someone from a cruise ship, someone spending two weeks on Bryher…) the point I’m making is that once a place like Scilly gets beyond a certain number then the very reason why Scilly is attractive in the first place is lost. People spend time and money getting to Scilly exactly to escape the crowds. If they want a crowded seaside holiday they can go to pretty much anywhere on the English coast.

  14. meme January 30, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Let us hope that there is someone out there reading and taking on board these comments I endorse the majority of the comments as the island is far too small for the influx of visitors that these cruise ships bring.

  15. Salop Dave January 30, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Sorry Jeff – need to mind my double yoos. Shhhh about witches or some ‘amateur’ marketing wizzo with 2 much time on their brooms will be organising coven weekends at Bar Point. But back 2 cruising just how r you going to control this menace and the damage it is doing to Scilly, so very well described by the owners of Bell Rock. Call up the Navy!

  16. Chris & June Jones Bell Rock Hotel January 29, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    PS- It is critical that we all protect the unique environment of Scilly and don’t allow it to be spoilt- this is why visitors come,and many return every year .We have owned the hotel for 27 years,and the potential cruise ship overload has been the biggest threat to the Islands and needs to be carefully managed,with much more thought to the overall impact to all,and not going for unlimited numbers regardless.

  17. Chris & June Jones January 29, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    We agree with “Scillophile” – In our experience few cruising visitors return to Scilly — indeed very few have even enquired to see what we offer,and the number that have actually booked are insignificant. Last year we warned guests that they would not experience what they had come for,peace and quiet etc when the larger ships were anchored- the Minerva is fine,300 visitors split between the Islands-we came into Scilly on it ourselves last year-but 3 ships with 2300 at the height of the season will kill the unique offer and put regular staying visitors off-we are too small and fragile environment! It is a cheap stop for cruise lines-what do they pay? Just pilotage fees to the Duchy? 48+ ships this year,how many more next year,with what benefit to the community? Discuss,before the people who do matter,the staying visitors are put off- and they are already.

  18. Jann January 29, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    This is as irresponsible as the Harbour Staff telling Yacht Mags to inform Yachts that Scilly is easy and safe to come to!! = smacks of desperate to get more money for the DoC. coffers.
    2500+ people dumped here on top of 2000 residents 3000 real visitors (stayers),plus Scillonian day trippers and Yachts to much this needs to stopped, all it will do is put people off coming again! This place is out of control.

  19. Alice January 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Last June, on returning from a day trip to St Agnes we spent a very cold (and wet) 20mins on Golden Spray waiting whilst cruise ship passengers were loaded onto their returning boats at St Mary’s. There wasn’t enough water in to take more than one boat at a time at the quay, hence the wait. As visitors, we don’t object to the cruise ships calling (we have been on several cruises ourselves) but were made to feel very much the 2nd class holidaymakers that day. Literally pushed to the back of the queue. If that number of ships are going to call, the harbour authorities need to organise the boat transfer times better so as not to disaaffect regular visitors that pay a lot of money to get to and stay on Scilly.

  20. Jeff Eastick January 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    By the way , Dave , no W in surname. No witches in our family , although there was an old Aunt when I was a toddler ………

    • Regular. Visitor January 30, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      As a regular visitor for many years to Scilly, I can see that those who essentially benefit from the cruise liners are the Dutchy, the boatmen, Tresco and the coaches. Surely,the cruisers are on an all inclusive basis on the liner, so would wish to return to the ship for meals.Regular staying visitors on the islands watch as the cruise folk pay lip homage to the islands. The few souvenirs they purchase are irrelevant.They arrive and leave and do not really know about what they have visited. When have they had time to stand and stare and enjoy?Surely the future of the islands is of regular returning visitors. Don’t turn them away in the hope that cruisers will be your future.

  21. Jeff Eastick January 29, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    See you there , Dave

  22. Salop Dave January 29, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Time of the year to be planning the visit to Scilly only to see that more cruise ships are scheduled. So more masses of travelers, clothed for clubbing, moaning that there’s ‘nothing to do here’, looking at you surprised and sniffily should you say, hello. Then they’ll get back home trashing Scilly on how crowded it was. And would you get planning permission if you wanted to erect an ugly 5 story restaurant and hotel tower block in Scilly. There’d be uproar – inappropriate, out of proportion, ruins the delicate views. And the pollution! Careful where you swim. Some of your tourists boffins haven’t a clue about generating and protecting real tourism. More interested in destroying it. Sorry Mr Eastwick, I know where Bar Point is!

  23. Briony January 29, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Regular visitors don’t spend lots of money on souvenirs as day trippers or cruise ship visitors do . The shop keepers must be delighted when a ship docks, it’s a good boost to the economy for the islands.

  24. Jeff Eastick January 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Sounds like a good idea to spend 12/7 up at Bar Point , but don’t tell everyone or there will be no room to breathe there either.

  25. Scillophile January 28, 2016 at 9:57 am

    For someone who lives in Falmouth & witnesses the fracas of hoards of cruise ship passengers either congesting the town so we residents cannot go about our daily grind, or cannot access the main road route out of town because a phalanx of 30+ coaches are carrying passengers to Land’s End, St Michaels Mount, Eden and the like (N.B. so they will not be spending in town). And as someone who has done their share of cruising and visited many places overseas, you have to question the financial viability of such trade.

    This is a trade which represents the bottom of the income pile for most – it constitutes the last way to make a living – ask the guides and concierges in Kephalonia who have cruise ships visiting daily. They work 7 days per week for 7 months of the year, earning a ‘crust’, then ‘sign on’ for the remainder of the year for 300 Euros per month – they cannot afford a mortgage. There’s little other employment than tourism.

    From the income perspective, only the harbour authorities, coach companies, and possibly taxi firms do well from such visits. The ‘passenger spend’ is minimal – a cup of coffee here, or a light lunch there (most return to the ship for their lunch as it’s paid for up front), so the local economy doesn’t fair well at all.

    In Falmouth, they even service the cruise ships with ‘ambassadors’ who are all (unpaid) volunteers. So that closes the door on possible employment for locals – even though it may be haphazard in its frequency.

    Both ‘Pam’ and ‘Pensioner’ are quite correct in their review of this matter – it’s another case of greed on behalf of those directly involved, i.e. the direct recipients of what cash that does come with such visits. It has no advantage for 99% of the resident populous nor other visitors who have paid dearly to come and stay. I’ve been unlucky enough to have been on Tresco when P&O called for the day ! Never again !

  26. Pam January 27, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Has anyone ever calculated the daily spend, per head ,on the islands by the cruise ship visitors compared to the returning weeks -stay, or longer, holidaymakers?

  27. Pensioner January 27, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Is this to be the new vision for Scilly ?? What about the visitors who come to stay at great expense for a peaceful holiday ! Let’s hope the Quay work is finished and no more works are in progress