- Rolling dry dock to commence in early January 2014, final vessel complete by 15 March 2014
- Alternative travel arrangements in place
- Revised Scrabster–Stromness timetable will see three return trips per day for most of August 2014 to meet perceived demand
Serco NorthLink Ferries has opened bookings for 2014 with the publication of timetables and fares for the year.
The timetables confirm arrangements for the regular planned maintenance of the passenger vessels with one vessel at a time out of service from 6 January to 15 March 2014.
Passenger fares will increase by 2.7 per cent from 1 January, in line with the Consumer Price Index, and as agreed with the Scottish Government.
The regular maintenance schedule – which sees the vessels in dry dock for just over two weeks each – will happen in a rolling programme.
The MV Hamnavoe will be out of service from 6 to 23 January, MV Hjaltland from 1 to 19 February, and MV Hrossey from 27 February to 15 March. Improvements to the existing maintenance programme means that none of the ships should be in dry dock during 2015.
The maintenance period has been scheduled to coincide with the quietest time of the year for passengers and freight – January to March.
While MV Hamnavoe is out of service, the Scrabster to Stromness route will be served by freight vessel MV Helliar, which can carry up to 12 passengers. In addition, Pentland Ferries has confirmed that it has capacity for all potential NorthLink passengers. A courtesy bus will operate between the NorthLink and Pentland Ferries terminals at each location.
As in previous years there will be a reduced service from Aberdeen to Lerwick while the MV Hrossey and MV Hjaltland are in dry dock. This will see one boat operating at a time with a service every other day from Lerwick and Aberdeen. A daily freight connection will be maintained throughout this period.
In addition, following customer feedback, Serco NorthLink Ferries is pleased to announce revisions to the Scrabster-Stromness route for the summer period of 2014 to meet perceived demand in late August. The changes mean that during August three daily return trips will now be possible through most of the month.
Stuart Garrett, managing director at Serco NorthLink Ferries, commented: “Serco NorthLink Ferries has worked hard to minimise the impact of the maintenance programme on passengers. We have put in arrangements that ensure travel demands will be met between Orkney and Caithness while the MV Hamnavoe is in dry dock. This includes courtesy transport between our terminals and Pentland Ferries together with the introduction of our freight vessel MV Helliar.
“It is good news that Serco NorthLink’s improved maintenance programme will mean that a dry dock period should not be required in 2015, reducing the impact of maintenance on islanders’ travel plans.
“Throughout the year we’ve spoken to local communities and carefully monitored the demand for services. This has allowed us to change and improve the Scrabster to Stromness route and to extend the peak period with three crossings per day throughout most of August.”
For bookings or further travel information go to www.northlinkferries.co.uk