Sailing to Orkney in May
VisitScotland can confirm that Orkney is still very much open for business following the temporary suspension of the NorthLink ferry service, MV Hamnavoe, which runs between Scrabster and Stromness. The ferry was taken from service at short notice due to an unforeseen technical failure and will be back in operation by Friday 24 May.
There are a number of alternative ways to get to Orkney, including the NorthLink ferry service from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, Pentland Ferries service from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope, the John O’ Groats ferry from Burwick to John O' Groats and flights with Flybe to a range of Scottish and other UK destinations.
Serco NorthLink Ferries is working with other transport operators to help passengers with alternative travel arrangements which includes free courtesy bus travel between NorthLink ferry operations and those of Pentland Ferries. Pentland Ferries are also adding extra services to their Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope route during this period.
Travel advice to passengers is as follows:
• Passengers can call NorthLink Ferries on 0845 6000449 if they require further information.
• Passengers who have not yet been contacted and holding bookings between now and 24 May should call NorthLink Ferries on 0845 6000449.
• Pentland Ferries will put on additional sailings and will sail four times a day in each direction between the mainland (Gills Bay) and Orkney (St Margaret’s Hope) on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 May. They normally operate three return sailings a day. Tickets and timetables can be booked here on the Pentland Ferries website.
• NorthLink Ferries will provide courtesy bus travel for passengers between Stromness and Pentland Ferries at St Margaret’s Hope and from Gills Bay to Scrabster with a drop-off in Thurso and Kirkwall.
• Alternative transport to the mainland is also possible via NorthLink’s timetabled service between Kirkwall and Aberdeen.
• The John O’Groats to Burwick ferry can be booked here on the website.
• NorthLink Ferries will help passengers to book alternative options and welcome them to their offices in Scrabster, Stromness, and at Kiln Corner in Kirkwall where staff can assist with bookings.
• Further information on sailings will be announced on the NorthLink Ferries website as it comes available. You can find further information with NorthLink news stories and NorthLink operational news.
Freight service information:
Serco NorthLink Ferries’ MV Helliar has been brought in to operation on the Scrabster to Stromness route to provide regular freight travel between Orkney and Caithness while MV Hamnavoe has been withdrawn for urgent repairs. This service will begin at 16.00 on Thursday 2 May and will be a twice-daily service. The freight service can carry passengers but numbers are limited to 12 as the Helliar is a working vessel. Tickets for this service will be on a first-come-first-served only basis. Bookings can be made through NorthLink.
There are a number of great events taking place in Orkney during May. Celebrate local wildlife at the Orkney Nature Festival on 11 to 19 May with boat trips to uninhabited islands, seabird cruises and heritage walks. The Orkney Folk Festival celebrates the traditional music scene from 23 to 26 May with a mixture of local and visiting artists performing at various venues.
For the latest on the roads around Scotland, visit Traffic Scotland.
For the latest on flights to and from Scottish airports, contact the airport directly. Find a list of Scottish airports.
For the latest on the trains around Scotland, visit National Rail for travel updates.
For the latest on the ferries to and from Scotland, visit the BBC’s Travel section.