During the summer the island gets a number of cruise ships that dock for a day at Kirkwall and disgorge their passengers into the waiting coaches a treat them to whistle stop tour of the island.
Some of these coach trips don’t even have time to stop at all the main sights and are seen just slowing down as they pass the Standing Stones of Stenness for example whilst their passengers frantically snap a photo or two of the oldest standing stones on the island behind which is Barnhouse village, a Neolithic village with a large meeting hall that in many ways as interesting as Skara Brae.
But time limitations aside at least these visitors get a ‘flavour’ of Orkney and perhaps will return another day and devote more time. The tourist trade is worth some £35 million to the island but a lot of the local businesses see very little money from the cruise ship visitors and because of this the feeling is mixed on the island when a ship like the Splendida docks with 3,500 passengers and 2,000 staff, this one ship contains almost a quarter of the population of Orkney!
We deliberately went into Kirkwall on the day that they docked and took some photos of Kirkwall as it dealt with the crowds. Not everyone from the ship went into town, just the ones who didn’t take one of the coach trips organised.
The Main street through Kirkwall was closed for traffic that day as it is normally mainly pedestrian but allows a little traffic through, but I guess that running over a tourist would be considered a ‘bad thing’.