Whitby Harbour master Captain Chris Burrows pointed out that the port has always been capable of welcoming larger vessels, but demand for anchorages has only recently risen again due to restrictions on overseas travel.
“Whitby’s been an international port for centuries. It’s only as a result of ‘the liner lockdown’ that people have started to experience this friendly, historic port for themselves."
More cruise firms have now expressed interest in docking at Whitby after the successful visit of Island Sky, which anchored 700 metres from the West Pier last week, and two other vessels this summer.
Island Sky usually operates Suez Canal and European cruises but is currently travelling around the British coastline.
Large ships have to anchor outside of the piers and do not enter the harbour itself as the water is too shallow. Yet the distance to shore is short and the transfer for passengers is a quick one.
“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 Captain Burrows.
"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.
Interest is coming from cruise firms such as Island Sky's owners Noble Caledonia, who operate trips to destinations including the Scottish islands.
Scarborough Council s tourism and culture manager Janet Deacon 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.”