Stuart Garrett, managing director of NorthLink Ferries said: “Due to the severe weather conditions which are forecast over the coming days we have taken the decision to amend our timetable on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th December.
“Tomorrow’s (Monday 23rd December) sailing of the M.V Hjaltland scheduled to depart from Lerwick to Aberdeen at 17:30 will now depart ahead of schedule at midday. The vessel will arrive into Kirkwall (Hatson Pier) at 17:00 hrs ahead of an early departure at 18:00 hrs. The ferry will then sail for Aberdeen and is expected to arrive into at its destination at 01:00 hrs. Disembarkation will remain at 07:00 as normal.
“With a severe weather warning issued for very high winds for Tuesday 24th December the M.V Hamnavoe’s sailings across the Pentland Firth are under review so we would urge all passengers wishing to cross the Pentland Firth ahead of Christmas day to travel tomorrow, Monday 23rd December, to avoid the possibility of cancelled sailings on Tuesday. It is possible that it will be as late as 05:00 hrs on Tuesday 24th December before we can make a final decision as to whether or not the Hamnavoe will sail according to her scheduled timetable on Christmas Eve.
“Whilst we appreciate that these disruptions may cause passengers inconvenience at this time of year we make these decisions with the safety of our passengers and crew in mind and we want to make sure that everyone gets home safely for Christmas.”