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Yesterday, the Islands' Partnership hosted a special lunch at St. Mary’s Hall Hotel for its volunteer team of Cruise Ship Welcome Hosts who have greeted no less than 43 ships this season - a record for Scilly! More than 18,000 cruise passengers went ashore to St. Mary’s, Tresco and the other islands, generating more than £700,000 for the islands’ coffers.

The final cruise liner of 2015, the Albratross, left Scilly’s shores last Saturday 19th September, but with around 35 cruise liners already confirmed to the visit the islands in 2016, it won’t be long before our Ambassadors are preparing once again to offer a warm Scilly welcome to these valued guests.

“Our cruise ship ambassadors play a crucial role in rolling out the red carpet and, anecdotally, we know that passengers genuinely appreciate the welcome they receive. What is also pleasing is that our Ambassadors really enjoy the experience going on board ships to help visitors to Scilly make the most of the islands whilst here,” says Islands’ Partnership Executive Director, David Jackson. “I hope their enthusiasm for what they do will encourage others to sign up as ambassadors next year.”

Prior to the lunch, the volunteers met with the Islands’ Partnership team and Isles of Scilly Harbour Master, Dale Clark, to discuss their experiences of going aboard the ships and being on the quaysides to greet passengers and offer information packs. They also considered how Scilly’s Cruise Ship Ambassador programme could be enhanced for next season. Ideas and suggestions included an improvement to the “goody bags”; a “Things to Do / What to See / Where to Go” handout for passengers coming that specific day, and working more closely with boat operators and other guides to create opportunities for additional organised tours and off-island visits from St. Mary’s quayside.

“Of the 18,000 passengers who came ashore this season, only a relatively small proportion went on pre-booked tours arranged by the cruise ships,” says David. “So there is definitely an opportunity to improve the product offer for our cruise passengers – particularly in terms of getting them to the other islands to experience Scilly as a whole and not just Hugh Town on St. Mary’s.”

“This has been an excellent first year for the Cruise Ship Ambassador Programme, and everyone – from the Ship’s Agent, Gerald Thompson and the St. Mary’s Boatmen to the Islands’ Partnership and the Ambassadors themselves - has worked really well together to create a lasting impression for the passengers,” adds Dale Clark, St. Mary’s Harbour Master. “The commitment and enthusiasm of the ambassadors really adds value to the visitor experience, not just with the cruise ship passengers, but also with the cruise operators themselves. As the programme develops for 2016, I am sure we will have another record-breaking year – which is fantastic news for Scilly.”