We’ve compiled a list of answers to our most frequently asked questions about online booking – we hope this list of questions and answers helps you with booking your ferry to Orkney and Shetland online!
My payment failed – how did this happen?
Our current online booking system has difficulty with international letters such as à, é, î, ø, and ü. If you replace these with a, e, i, o and u, then the payment should work.
I’ve made a mistake in my online booking – how do I start over?
Within the pink Your Booking box you’ll see a Start over with a new booking link. This is the most effective way to wipe the slate clean and start again!
Can I just turn up and go or should I book ahead?
If you are a foot passenger then you can turn up and buy your ticket. However if you plan to take a vehicle or require cabin accommodation, we would strongly advise that you book a few weeks ahead to avoid disappointment.
Please note that the final cut-off time for checking-in is half an hour before sailing, so please turn up in good time!
Can I use a discount code or sponsorship code online?
Unfortunately not – if you have a discount code, such as a Orkney Folk Festival Patron Discount or St Magnus Festival Patron Discount, please phone 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500 to apply it to your booking.
How do I change the route that I plan to travel from Aberdeen to Lerwick?
Under the ‘Outward’ title, click on the little black downward-pointing arrow next to ‘Aberdeen – Lerwick’ to change the selection from the default to the route you’d like to travel. The return journey on the right hand column should then change to the available return routes.
Can I book a three leg journey online e.g. Aberdeen to Lerwick, Lerwick to Kirkwall and Kirkwall to Aberdeen?
This would have to be done as two bookings. At present you can either select a single or return journey. However you can make this booking by making one booking from Aberdeen to Lerwick, returning from Lerwick to Kirkwall and another booking from Kirkwall to Aberdeen. The price will not be affected by splitting up the bookings.
When can I book travel for next year?
We usually publish our timetables and fares and open up our booking system for the next year in September / October. Click here if you would like an email notification!
How do I book concessionary travel?
Under the blue Passengers title select Adult Concession instead of Adult.
I can’t see ‘Adult Concessions’ to select!
Is it possible that you’ve logged in with a Family and Friends ID and Password? As you can’t receive the 10% concessions discount at the same time as the 30% Family and Friends discount if you log in with your Family and Friends ID and Password the option to select Adult Concessions will disappear. To receive a concessionary fare, please book without logging in using your Family and Friends ID.
What is a Child Concession or Infant Concession?
These prices are for disabled child or infant passengers.
Do I need to prove that I am over 60 or disabled at the ferry ports?
No – we will not ask you to provide any proof that you are over 60 or disabled. However, if you are an Islander who has used a National Concession Ferry Voucher to book, we will need to collect these from you when you check in.
When making my booking I get an error saying ‘First name missing. Last name missing.’
This error occurs if you make a return journey and put in the number of Adults for the Outward journey but fail to put in the number of Adults for the Return Journey on the Route and departure screen. We would advise clicking on the Start over with a new booking to begin again, and make sure that both the Outward and Return journeys are filled in correctly.
I don’t know the number plate of my car
If you have a rental car or don’t know the number plate of your car yet, please type in your registration number as not known – the NorthLink online booking system will accept this. It is not essential to tell us your car licence plate number but it helps speed up identification at car check-in.
How do I book a car and caravan on the ferry to Orkney or Shetland?
Select 1 Car + Caravan under the blue Vehicles title. You will be asked for a Number plate and length. We will need to know the total combined length of your car and caravan in metres!
How do I book my bicycle on board?
To book a bicycle, select 1 under the blue Vehicles title and then select Bicycle from the drop down menu that appears.
What is a Domestic Van?
A domestic van is one that is not used for commercial purposes. Please note that commercial vans (ie a plumbers van) must be booked as freight. To do so, please phone 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500.
Is the cost of cabins per bed or per cabin?
When booking cabins, the Amount refers to the number of cabins. Unless you’re planning to book multiple cabins, you should select Amount 1 next to the cabin you would like.
Please note that if you’re on a return crossing you may need to select 1 cabin for the outward leg and 1 cabin for the return leg.
The exception to the rule is if you are booking a bed within a cabin sharing with strangers – such as a Male bed in outer 2-berth cabin. In this instance, the number you are selecting and cost refers to per bed.
Can I book a cabin for disabled people online?
At present no – cabins for disabled people must be booked by phone. The reason for this is that we are keen to ensure that these cabins go to those who need them, rather than them getting booked up when no other cabins are available, by those that don’t. When you phone 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500 you can also arrange for your car to be parked close to the lifts on the car deck.
The cabin I want isn’t available
If you can’t see the cabin you’d like it is most likely that they are booked up on that date. Our inner 2 berth cabins are particularly popular and most likely to be booked up because they are the cheapest cabin option, but there are only 4 on each ship. If you don’t see an alternative cabin option you can phone 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500 to be placed on a cabin waiting list.
Will I have to share my cabin with strangers?
No – if you book a cabin it is for your exclusive use. The exception to the rule is if you are booking a bed within a sharing cabin. Please note that if you are travelling with companions it is best to book a cabin for your exclusive use rather than multiple beds within a sharing cabin as there is no guarantee you’ll be allocated together.
Can I amend my booking?
Yes – if you log in with a NorthLink Ferries ID you can select ‘My Bookings’ and change them. Please note that you cannot amend bookings when one leg of the journey has already been taken. It is also not possible to amend Freight bookings online. All refunds must be claimed by phoning 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500.
Do I have to book a meal ahead?
If you’d rather wait and see how you feel on the day it is possible to buy your meal on board the ship. However we’re also aware that some people like to have everything paid for before they travel, and there’s a small saving to be made by buying your meal on the ‘extras’ page when booking. Please be aware that Hamnavoe B&B cabins come with two free breakfasts included, so don’t buy breakfasts on the extras page if you are selecting this option!
Why do you need my mobile phone number?
We are highly unlikely to use it, but if there are any changes, disruptions or cancellations to your sailing, we may use your mobile phone number to get in touch with you!
Can I book a journey online carrying dangerous good online?
No. If you plan to travel with a firearm, ammunition, knives, fireworks or other prohibited items – detailed on the prohibited items website please phone 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500 to book.
The website keeps adding extra cars to my booking!
If the browser’s back button is used during a booking it causes the vehicles to double up. We would advise clicking on the Start over with a new booking to begin again.
If you need to go back during booking it’s best to use the pink and blue menu that starts with Route and departure underneath the NorthLink logo.
How do I get my Islander discount online?
You’ll need to log in with your Islander ID and Password. If you don’t have one yet, please visit the islander webpage to register as an Islander. You will receive a registration pack in the post at your island address.
Once you’ve registered your Islander ID and Password should be found within the Islander pack. However you can also get a reminder of your Islander ID and Password by visiting the Forgotten ID webpage
Please note that this will only work if we have a valid email address for you – if you need to update your email address, please phone 0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500.
When you type your Islander ID and Password into the pink Book Onlin’ box and click on Book a one-way journey or Book a return journey your name will appear, indicating you are logged in. Thereafter your journey will have the Islander discount applied.
If you are an Islander entitled to a concessionary fare, please ensure that you select Adult Concession instead of Adult.
Can I book online with my National Concession Ferry Vouchers?
Not at present. The complicated Terms and Conditions surrounding National Entitlement Ferry Vouchers are easy for a member of our reservations staff to process, but difficult to build into an automated online system. You can book using National Entitlement Ferry Vouchers by phone (0845 6000 449 or +44 (0)1856 885500), email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or in a NorthLink office.