From Our Shipping Correspondent:
The Marco Polo cruise liner, which arrived in Tobermory Harbour at 6:30 yesterday morning, is the 36th visit of a major cruise ship this year, according to Jim Traynor, who has the title of Marine Manager but could be considered to be Tobermory's Harbour Master. He reckons there will be about 45 such visits this year as the season draws to a close and this doesn't include the smaller cruise ships like the Lord of the Glens which arrived later in the day.
The economic benefit of these visits must be huge. If you assume each passenger spends around £25 and times that by a typical 500 people on each ship by 45 ships that comes to around half a million pounds being put into the local economy. £25 may be a conservative estimate as it is reported that silverware, Harris Tweed and antler products all sell well to the cruisers. Add in a meal and you'll easily get to £25.
This is why Jim and his deputy Barbara Weir were making sure the visitors felt welcome when they arrived. But they also have another responsibility, the safety of the passengers in these times of heightened security. In 2004 the EU issued Directive 725 which started to bring in airport style security for ships above 500 tonnes, so Tobermory has to create a secure zone every time a ship comes in - they put out these signs and check everyone entering the pontoons. According to Jim we are at Security State 1 and so the passengers are only monitored. If the UK goes to Security State 2 then the Tobermory team would be required to do random searches of passengers returning to the ship. Above that and they wouldn't let the cruise ships land anyone.
The Marco Polo lifted anchor around 3pm and headed out into the Sound, hopefully with happy passengers and leaving behind an equally happy town.
Many thanks indeed to Chris Gane for story and pictures.