Whitby becoming a magnet for cruise ships, welcoming first three in a decade

Whitby has been enjoying something of a ‘silver liner’ over the past few months.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 4:24 pm
Island Sky cruise ship pictured off Whitby.

With international travel still limited for UK holidaymakers, cruise specialists have been casting their nets in British waters, and Whitby has proved a winning catch – becoming the UK’s newest luxury cruise destination.

Captain Chris Burrows, Whitby’s Harbour Master, said: “Whitby’s been an international port for centuries - after all, this is the place where world-famous explorer Captain Cook set out on his global travels 250 years ago on-board Whitby-built ship, the Endeavour.

“We’ve always been very capable of welcoming cruise ships, but it’s only as a result of ‘the liner lockdown’ that people have started to experience this friendly, historic port for themselves."

He said that this July, the first three cruise ships in a decade anchored off Whitby – with rave reviews - and this has attracted interest from many more cruise ships for the year ahead, as travel agents begin to spot the area's potential.

The vessel anchors outside the piers and not enter the harbour itself as even smaller cruise ships would struggle for depth of water.

The Island Sky, anchored about 700m from the West Pier last week as it provides good shelter and holding ground for the ship, as well as a quick trip into the harbour on a tender.

One of the reasons Whitby is cruising to success is that it’s one of the friendliest and easiest holiday-making harbours in the country - ships can anchor close to Whitby’s piers, so the transfer for passengers from ship to shore is very quick.

“For many first-time cruise visitors, one of the most awe-inspiring parts of the trip has been the actual journey into Whitby itself, from ship to shore," said Chris.

"The dramatic approach by sea is like a piece of magnificent maritime theatre, with Whitby’s gothic abbey standing sentinel on its clifftop, breath-taking views of the dramatic Yorkshire coastline, and the higgledy-piggledy town huddled around the historic fishing harbour.

"It's certainly a picture perfect highlight."

Whitby’s port boasts top-class marine services including a landing facility and linkspan in the centre of the town; a disabled-friendly, enhanced access pontoon; predominantly sheltered anchorage; and the ability to handle two large tenders in tandem or a multitude of Zodiacs – as well as a highly-experienced harbour team on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly for the destination’s new guests.

What’s more, on UK itineraries Whitby is a perfect stopping-off point in between Scotland and England’s South Coast, so Chris has been getting particular interest from independent small ship cruise specialists – like market leaders, Noble Caledonia - which arranges holidays for travellers on Best of British tours, or those seeking to explore somewhere a little more magical and unique, somewhere completely different to the average cruise.

Janet Deacon, Tourism and Culture Manager, added: “This has been such an unexpected boost for the Yorkshire Coast’s tourism economy, after a tough couple of years, and we’re doing everything we can to convince travel agents to continue supporting UK cruise destinations after travel restrictions lift.

"Ports like Whitby have so much to offer luxury travellers, especially those who love venturing off the beaten track to explore somewhere a little more ‘exotic’, scenic and distinctive.

"We believe Whitby’s a winner.”

To book a cruise that includes Whitby, ask your local travel agent about UK-based domestic cruises.