Summer brings visitors to Leith and Edinburgh, in the shape of cruise liners from all over the world. For their passengers, it’s a luxury trip, often long-planned and eagerly awaited, with the chance to visit far-flung places around the world. For the crews, it can be very different; they usually work on the ship for weeks at a time, with long hours and very little chance to go ashore for a break. In many ports, there is a team of ‘ship visitors’, who go on board the cruise liners to offer practical help, a friendly chat, and where possible, transport for a short outing – small things which can make a big difference.
Ship visitors are trained through the Merchant Navy Welfare Board. The Leith team was set up in 2010 by Tim Bell, the Leith Port Chaplain, and kicked off with a bang, visiting 28 ships that season. By 2011, more volunteers and churches had come on board and in 2012, there was a welcome extension to the work, with a team working in Rosyth and Grangemouth, mostly staffed by Mission to Seafarers volunteers. The team is fully ecumenical, working with the port chaplains of the Sailors’ Society, Mission to Seafarers Scotland and the Apostleship of the Sea, with Leith Churches Together as the umbrella organisation.
Like to know more? Click on the link to read about a ship visit. Going on Board
If you think you might like to join the team, contact Tim Bell, the Leith Port Chaplain. The cruise ship season usually lasts from May to September. You can do as few or as many visits as you like, and training is provided for all volunteers. The teams are supported by the chaplains.