A cruise ship operator has responded to public outrage over the visit of a 'monster' cruise ship to St Kilda.  

Earlier this week, the Spirit of Adventure, a 58,000-ton cruise ship operated by Saga Cruises, visited the remote archipelago while on a 14-day 'West Coast Explorer: from Orkney to Ireland'  cruise that departed Dover on May 9.

The itinerary listed on the Saga Cruises made no mention of a stop over at St Kilda, which is situated around 40 miles west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of only 39 in the world, St Kilda is home to nearly 1 million seabirds, including the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic puffins.

READ MORE: Images of cruise ship visiting St Kilda spark outrage online

Photos showing the cruise ship docked off the main island of Hirta sparked outrage on X, formerly known as Twitter, with some calling the visit "irresponsible" and others expressing concern over the potential environmental impact of the visit. 

In response to the outcry, The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which owns St Kilda, said it would raise concerns about the unscheduled visit with the cruise ship company.

NTS wrote: "We work with the cruise ship industry to encourage responsible tourism and we limit the number of vessels calling into St Kilda. 

We also limit the number of passengers who come ashore. The companies we work with agree to our biosecurity procedures and wildlife-watching codes. However, on this occasion, we believe this vessel was sailing past the island en route to another destination."

Saga Cruises said that the visit was "a scenic sail past" and that the ship's captain took the necessary steps "to avoid disruption" to wildlife on St Kilda.

A Saga spokesperson told The Herald: “Earlier this week, the Spirit of Adventure passed through the Bay of St Kilda on its planned sailing around the Hebrides.

"Prior to approaching the area, the ship made the relevant local authorities aware of the scenic sail past.

"Given that this is a sensitive area for wildlife, and having worked previously in the region along with the National Trust for Scotland, the captain took all the appropriate procedures to avoid disruption and any adverse impact.”