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Preparations are well in hand for the arrival of the first cruise ship of the season – and the first to tie up at Stornoway’s new deep water terminal.

That’s according to Stornoway Port Authority, who say that their team is preparing for the ‘important milestone’ of the arrival of the cruise vessel MS Ambition on Monday 1 and Tuesday 2 April.

There have, as yet, been no reported preparations for receiving the first ship ever on the deep water quay with any fanfare. But, ready or not, they’re coming.

The preparedness of the port, the town and the islands in general for a larger-than-usual influx of visitors has been much debated in recent weeks, with observers feeling the mounds of building materials around the harbour do not indicate a high state of readiness.

With the Perceval Square toilets reportedly closed, Callanish Visitor Centre out of commission for the season and the latest insecurity over the future of tourist information, it’s hard to consider Stornoway as genuinely ready for any ramped-up visitor influx.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar say the  current delay in the opening of the Perceval Square Toilets is as a result of staff shortages which will be resolved following the completion of an ongoing round of recruitment. "Interviews have been conducted and we are currently awaiting the completion of recruitment checks, once finalised the facility will reopen to the public. This will initially be Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm (closed Sunday)."

In the latest newsletter on the deep water terminal development, the authority admits work will still be going on after the first ships tie up at the new terminal.

They said: “Although the main berth will be complete before the end of March, there will be some minor works ongoing during April and May. These will be well away from the main quay and will not affect use of the completed facilities.”

The Ambassador line’s cruise ship MS Ambition is due to tie up at 7am on Monday 1 April, bringing up to 1,200, predominantly British, passengers for a day and a half of sightseeing in the town and island.

She’ll be the first of an expected 93 cruise calls this season and is not only the first vessel of the season, but is making her own maiden call to Stornoway, as well as being the first vessel scheduled for the new deep water terminal.

She could, of course, be positioned in the outer anchorage, leaving a clear three weeks of further preparation time before the second large cruise visitor, the Seabourn Venture, is slated for the new facility on 24 April.

The pictures show the impressive size of MS Ambition against the quay at Rouen in France last autumn (Ambassador Cruise Lines) and a pedestrian’s-eye view of the new deep water port taken on Sunday (Robert Sinclair).

The Stornoway toilets information has been added since this was first posted