COVID-19 information

Important information for passengers – reviewed @ 10:00hrs 24th November 2021

On 23 November 2021, the First Minister delivered a statement to Parliament where she confirmed that Cabinet had decided to retain all of the remaining legal COVID protections – such as the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport.

All amendments to bookings will be made free of charge. Should you wish to cancel your booking, you will receive a full refund (up to the point of the date of travel; except if you fail to check-in or notify us of your intention not to travel). Refunds can be given online or by phone.

For the fastest way to get the latest health advice and information please visit the NHS Inform coronavirus webpage.

We’ve made some changes to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These are to protect both our passengers and crew.

  1. DO NOT travel if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. Please wear a face covering within our ferry terminals and on board. View Scottish Government guidance on face-coverings.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions about possible symptoms.
  4. If boarding by car, please ensure your bags are ready to grab and go on the car deck.
  5. Be considerate and give plenty of space to other passengers, staff, and crew.
  6. Don’t block stairwells or passageways.
  7. Our ships are professionally cleaned.
  8. Wash your hands regularly and use sanitizer points.
  9. In the Feast restaurant, a member of staff will guide you through ordering your food.
  10. Be patient when disembarking and when collecting luggage.

Booking Information

  • Book Ahead. To avoid disappointment we would recommend that passengers book ahead. Bookings can be made online or by phone. Visitors to Orkney and Shetland should book island accommodation before arrival.
  • Testing. We continue to ask passengers to conduct pre-departure lateral flow testing to protect themselves, other passengers and keep our crew and communities safe.
  • Amendments and Cancellations. All booking amendments will be made free of charge. Should you wish to cancel your booking, you will receive a full refund (up to the point of the date of travel; except if you fail to check-in or notify us of your intention not to travel). Refunds can be given online or by phone.

NorthLink cleaning procedures

Onboard Information

  • Our passenger and freight vessel services are currently continuing as per our timetables. Due to COVID-19, some on board services may be suspended or altered and passengers are not able to travel on freight boats.
  • Face Coverings are mandatory in our terminals and public spaces onboard. The only exception to this is whilst in the act of eating or drinking, or if exempt. View Scottish Government guidance on face-coverings.
  • There are new barriers and signs, as well as extra hand sanitation points in our terminals and on board our ships.
  • We are undertaking extra cleaning and sanitation on board our vessels and in our terminals.
  • For your reassurance, our ventilation system is on full fresh air and there is no re-circulation of air through the internal accommodation on board.

Hjaltland & Hrossey (Aberdeen – Kirkwall – Lerwick)

  • Passengers without cabin accommodation are encouraged to book a sleeping pod or reclining seat as it is not permittable to sleep on the deck or on bench seating on board.
  • The Feast restaurant is open for evening meals from 17:30 to 20:00 and for breakfast from 06:30 to 08:00 (arriving in Lerwick) and 06:00 to 07:45 (arriving in Aberdeen).

Passengers can pre-order breakfast (for delivery to their cabin) in the evening when purchasing their evening meal. 

  • The Bar. The Midships bar is closed. Longship Lounge is open from 19:00 to 22:00. Beverages do not need to be consumed in the bar area and passengers are free to take drinks to other areas of the ship.
  • Magnus’ Lounge is open to passengers who have purchased a Premium or Executive cabin only.
  • The Shop opening hours:
    • 17:00 departure from Aberdeen:
      16:00 to 17:00, 19:00 to 21:00 and 07:00 to 08:00
    • 19:00 departure from Aberdeen:
      17:00 to 18:00, 19:00 to 21:00 and 07:00 to 08:00
    • 17:30 departure from Lerwick:
      16:00 to 17:00, 19:00 to 21:00 and 06:30 to 07:30
    • 19:00 departure from Lerwick:
      17:00 to 18:00, 19:00 to 21:00 and 06:30 to 07:30
  • Vending machines are located on deck 6.
  • Cinema One film will be shown at 19:30. Tickets are free of charge, subject to availability and are available from the onboard shop during the opening hours.
  • Disembarkation:
    • Vehicle drivers should follow announced instructions to disembark.
    • Foot passengers may disembark in Kirkwall on arrival into port, in Lerwick from 07:30 to 08:30, and in Aberdeen from 07:00 to 08:00. 

Hamnavoe (Scrabster – Stromness)

  • The Feast is open for:
    • Breakfast (06:30 / 08:45 / 09:00 sailings) limited breakfast menu.
    • Lunch (11:00 / 12:00 / 13:15 sailings) soup and sandwiches.
    • Dinner (16:45 / 19:00 sailings) limited dinner menu.
  • The Bar. Brinkies Bar is open on afternoon and evening sailings. A selected range of beverages, alcoholic, non- alcoholic, teas, and coffees will be on offer.
  • The Shop will be open on all sailings.
  • Magnus Lounge access is not available to purchase.
    • Open for B&B passengers staying onboard in the evening.
  • Hamnavoe Bed & Breakfast Embarkation:
    • Check in for foot passengers is between 21:30 to 23:30.
    • Passengers with vehicles must drive on board the ship themselves.  
      • Vehicle drivers can check in between 20:00 and 20:30 the evening before sailing and drive on board then.
      • Vehicle drivers that check in between 21:30 to 23:30 will be required to drive on board at 05:45 on the morning for 06:30 sailing, or at 08:15 for the 09:00 sailing.
Wearing a facemask on board NorthLink ships

Additional important information 

  • We plan for and practice for such events on a regular basis as part of our business continuity regime, current developments however have required us to translate these plans into action and we have been active in managing this risk since late January 2020.
  • We will continue to liaise with our key haulier contacts to ensure we have full visibility on any changing trends or demands for freight both to or from both Shetland and Orkney.
  • Government advice changes according to latest developments and you should ensure you are aware of and adhere to any advice given by the authorities or by the Ships Master or crew whilst on-board any of our ships.

For a full list of Covid guidelines for Scotlland, please visit

If developing COVID-19 symptoms in Shetland, people should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test via the NHS Shetland website. In Orkney, people should call the Covid assessment centre on 01856 888211 for advice. More information on the NHS Orkney website.

Lateral flow tests can be ordered free of charge from the Scottish Government. More info and a link to order rapid LFT can be found at the NHS Inform website.

Read visitor information about COVID-19 from and