COVID-19 information

Important information for passengers – reviewed @ 10:15hrs 17th February 2021

Sailings to and from Orkney and Shetland are open. However, travel must be for essential reasons only. Mainland Scotland is in Level 4, where by law, you can only leave your home (or garden) if you have a reasonable excuse.

Shetland and Orkney are in Level 3. You must not travel into or out of Level 3 and 4 local authority areas except for essential reasons. See further guidance on travel and transport. Please view our convenient refund policy below and contact us if you need to change your travel plans.

For Refunds

The NorthLink Ferries published cancellation and refunds policy can be found on the terms and conditions webpage. However, in practice we’ve always been flexible regarding this arrangement and give customer refunds without penalty up to the point of the date of travel; except where the customer has failed to check in or notify us of their intention not to travel.

To receive a refund, please phone 08001114422 (free from UK landlines and mobiles).

Booking and onboard services

To allow physical distancing on board there will be limits to the numbers that can sail, so passengers must book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Bookings can be made online or by phoning 08001114422 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) or +44 (0)1856 885500 (International).

Many on board services have been suspended, passengers must disembark the vessel upon arrival and visitors to Orkney and Shetland must book island accommodation before arriving.

The NHS Scotland Test & Protect tracing app

NorthLink Ferries encourage all passengers to download the NHS Scotland Test & Protect tracing app at

The app, when downloaded to your phone, will alert you when you have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The app uses minimal data, works in the background using bluetooth and does not store any personal data from you.

12 Ways to Travel Safely with NorthLink Ferries

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.
  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 to other passengers, staff and crew.
  6. Car drivers will be issued a number on boarding to aid with disembarkation.
  7. Don’t block stairwells or passageways.
  8. Our ships are professionally cleaned.
  9. Wash your hands regularly and use sanitizer points.
  10. Please maintain physical distancing with other passengers and crew
  11. In the Feast restaurant, a member of staff will guide you through ordering your food.
  12. Be patient when disembarking and maintain physical distancing when collecting luggage.

Thank you for helping us stop the spread of COVID-19.

Video by Stephen Mercer Productions.

Additional important information for users of our services:

  • Our passenger and freight vessel services are currently continuing as per our timetable.
  • In these challenging times our normal service offering has been suspended:
    • Passengers must disembark the vessel upon arrival in Aberdeen and Lerwick, Stromness and Scrabster
    • A reduced food and drink service is available but the on board bars are closed.
    • Alcohol sales have been suspended.
    • The cinema, Magnus’ Lounge, children’s play area and car valet service have been suspended.
    • The car valet service has been suspended.
    • For the Hamnavoe Bed and Breakfast offer, passengers must drive their cars on board the ship themselves, either between 20:00 and 20:30 the evening before sailing, or at 05:45 on the morning.
    • 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.
  • There are new physical distancing markings, barriers and signs, as well as extra hand sanitation points in our terminals and on board our ships.
  • We remind our passengers to practice physical distancing on board and please adhere to hand washing guidelines at all times.
  • Face coverings must be worn in the public areas on board the ferry at all times, the only exception to this is whilst in the act of eating or drinking.
  • We are undertaking extra cleaning and sanitation in our terminals and on board our vessels.
  • 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.
  • NorthLink Ferries have been working closely with the Government and National Health Service professionals and are following all guidance issued.
  • 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.
  • 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.