Serco NorthLink Ferries maintains lifeline service to Northern Isles

Wednesday 1st April 2020

A new temporary timetable has been introduced by Serco NorthLink Ferries, designed to continue to provide a lifeline service between mainland Scotland and the Northern Isles whilst reflecting travel demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In line with advice from the Scottish Government and health officials, restrictions have been implemented in recent weeks to allow only necessary travel, resulting in a significant reduction in passenger numbers.

From Sunday 05 April, the Aberdeen-Kirkwall-Lerwick passenger service will move to a revised schedule seeing one passenger ship operating on the following off-peak timetable:

  • Aberdeen to Lerwick on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday
  • Lerwick to Aberdeen on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Aberdeen to Kirkwall on Thursday and Sunday
  • Kirkwall to Aberdeen on Wednesday and Friday

MV Hamnavoe, the passenger vessel which sails between Scrabster and Stromness, will remain on a two trip a day timetable.

NorthLink Ferries’ freight service plays a vital part in the Northern Isles supply chain and will continue to provide daily connections to and from the Northern Isles in tandem with the passenger vessel schedule.

The timetable is currently projected to run until Sunday 03 May but will be extended further as required in tandem with any restrictions on movement advice received. Passengers should be aware that additional changes may be introduced at short notice, and when travelling must follow strict physical distancing requirements at all times.

Speaking of the revised timetable, Stuart Garrett, Serco’s Managing Director of NorthLink Ferries, said: “The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is always our top priority and since the outset of COVID-19 we have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure their health and safety. We will continually review the changing situation and shape our response in line with the most recent guidance from Government and health officials. It’s for this reason that we are now introducing a temporary revised timetable to support essential lifeline services while responding to the reduction in passenger footfall.”

NorthLink Ferries has implemented restrictions to allow only necessary travel for island residents, key workers and those travelling to provide medical support to family members. A reduced on board offering and terminal usage has also been put in place, including:

  • Suspension of cinema
  • Suspension of car valet parking
  • Closure of on board shops
  • Closure of on board bar area
  • Amended menu available on crossings between Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick
  • Suspension of MV Hamnavoe bed and breakfast

For more information about NorthLink Ferries and to view the revised timetable, visit or call 08001114422 (free from UK landlines and mobiles).