MV Hamnavoe travelling to Stromness in Orkney


When checking in and boarding a NorthLink ferry to Shetland and Orkney, all details – from what to do with your baggage to car parking, bicycles, and assisting disabled passengers – have been carefully thought out with your ease in mind.


In order to board the ferry, please go to the Check-in desk. If you have taken a note of your booking reference number, this will speed up check-in. You will be issued a boarding card which will be checked just as you are about to board the vessel. Car drivers are asked to approach the car check in booth which should be clearly signposted. Check-in opens 165 minutes prior to departure at Hatston, 120 minutes prior to departure at Aberdeen and Lerwick and 90 minutes prior to departure at Stromness and Scrabster. Check-in closes 30 minutes prior to departure in all ports.

If you do not check-in at least 30 minutes prior to departure you will not be allowed on board our vessels

Aberdeen foot passenger check in

Car drivers are recommended to check-in at least 1 hour prior to departure.

If you are leaving Stromness on the early morning sailing and have booked a Bed and Breakfast cabin you may board between 21.30 and 23.30 the previous evening.

Whether you are a foot passenger or driving a vehicle your check-in times will be explained when you make your reservation.


You will be notified when the ship is ready for boarding. Boarding is an easy process – all terminals and passenger ships are connected with a covered walkway – so foot passengers do not need to use gangways. The walkways are accessible to wheelchairs and all stairs have accompanying lifts to enable access.

Walkway to board NorthLink Ferries ships as a foot passenger

Car drivers and their passengers will be directed onto the ferry and will be shown a parking space on the car deck by the Stevedores. Lifts and stairwells to the passenger decks are available from both sides of the car decks. Please note that once on board you may not come ashore again prior to sailing (this is a Marine Law requirement)

We will provide staff to assist disabled and frail foot passengers with boarding when required – please let us know your requirements in advance. If you are in a car, you can request that your car is located near a lift on the car deck. Again, please notify us in advance.

Boarding NorthLink Ferries with a car

During the COVID-19 outbreak the car valet service has been suspended.

NorthLink Ferries also offer a valet service for drivers who would rather not drive their car on board or away from the ferry. For a small charge we will arrange to load your car whilst you board as a foot passenger. On arrival in either Aberdeen or Lerwick we will unload your car and leave it, locked, in the terminal car park. You may then stay on board to enjoy breakfast (a £5 voucher towards breakfast is given to all valet service customers) and leave the ship at your leisure, collecting your keys at the ship’s Reception Desk.


If you are travelling with your car, please take only your overnight requirements with you. For safety reasons there is no access to car decks during sailings. If you are a foot passenger, your baggage should be checked in at the terminal. You will place it on to a secure trailer and it will be taken on board for you and stored securely. Upon arrival it will be unloaded. Labels for luggage will be issued at check in. Please note that whilst we take every possible care of your baggage, it is left at your own risk.

Please keep any items you need onboard with you as there is no access to checked-in baggage during the voyage. Please ensure though, that Hand Luggage only is taken on board our vessels, in the interests of Health and Safety . Please ensure that your hand luggage does not block walkways or seats.

Passengers are advised that a number of items that could be adapted or intended for use as an offensive weapon are not allowed on board ship without valid lawful reason. A list of these items can be found on our Prohibited items page. Divers are also advised to check our Diving Policy Page. Diving cylinders may be subject to regulations, and some gases may not be carried on our Passenger vessels. Diving cylinders may not be taken as hand baggage by foot passengers and must instead be placed within our specialised dive containers.


At NorthLink Ferries, taking a bicycle is free of charge across all routes. ]

To book your bicycle online – under the blue title ‘Vehicles’, select the number of bicycles you’re taking and then select ‘bicycle’ from the drop-down menu that appears.

Bicycle riders (Stromness, Scrabster and Hatston) – when you arrive at your departing ferry port, check-in at the foot-passenger desk in the Terminal. You’ll be asked to wait for a short period of time. At a moment when it is safe to do so, you will be asked to wheel (or ride) your bike over the stern ramp on to the ship’s car deck, as instructed by a NorthLink Ferries loading officer.

Bicycle riders (Aberdeen and Lerwick) – when you arrive at your departing ferry port, check-in at the vehicle check-in entrance. You’ll be asked to wait in the yard for a short period of time. At a moment when it is safe to do so, you will be asked to wheel (or ride) your bike over the stern ramp on to the ship’s car deck, as instructed by a NorthLink Ferries loading officer.

When the ferry arrives at its destination you’ll need to go to the car deck again, where you’ll receive instructions for disembarking the ship from the loading officer.

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