Review means visitors can now get back home
A north MSP called a delay over Northern Isles’ ferry bookings for 2019 “unacceptable” after customers told him they could book to go to the island over the festive period but not to come home.
Yesterday afternoon, NorthLink Ferries said it had reviewed its procedures and customers would be able to book January dates from Monday.
One man taking up a teaching job in Shetland was unable to guarantee he would be there in time for his starting date, because he couldn’t book a ferry. He raised the matter with Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, who said: “It is utterly unacceptable that, so close to the new year, passengers still could not book travel to and from Orkney and Shetland for 2019.
“It is obvious that island residents, tourists and local businesses need to be able to plan journeys a reasonable time in advance, and to be assured that services will be operating.
“At the moment, visitors can book to come to the islands for Christmas and Hogmanay, but can’t book their return journey. And residents can’t get home via Northlink if they’ve been away.
“The continued delays and lack of attention to our ferry services risk damaging our local economy and causing considerable inconvenience for people who have to make essential travel arrangements.”
“People need to be able to plan trips”
James Leask, an Orcadian student living in Edinburgh said: “Until Monday, I could go to see my family at Christmas, but I couldn’t get back to Edinburgh after New Year.
“We are not just another service, we are a lifeline service and we are important.”
Shetland’s Mhari Brooks said: “I wanted to go and see my family in Shropshire for Christmas in a car and on a ferry, but I couldn’t organise a time to get home and back to work.”
NORTHLINK FERRIES: January dates available from Monday