Ferry woes may disrupt Princess Anne’s Islay visit

CalMac ferry leaving Campbeltown

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CalMac’s announcement of delays, cancellations and single vessel timetables may disrupt Princess Anne’s planned visit to Islay next week and hit the island tourist trade all summer.

The Princess Royal, who is patron of the First World War Centenary Woods Project, will be on the island next Friday, May 4, for a memorial service marking the centenary of the sinking of SS Tuscania and HMS Otranto.

It is expected that people will travel from all over the world for the event, but ferry provider CalMac has announced that MV Finlaggan will be the main vessel on the route from April 26, supplemented only by MV Isle of Arran delivering a shared timetable between Islay and Arran. A source, who preferred not to be named, said that many people, from outwith the area who may have not seen the stories in the Scottish media and are planning to see the Princess on the island, will be relying on the ferry.

In addition, the source said a tanker with fuel for the royal helicopter will be delivered to the island on a ferry.

WW100 Scotland selected Islay as one of the major centres for commemorations in 2018.

In the past 12 months the WW100 Islay group, co-ordinated by the Museum of Islay Life and its manager Jenni Minto, has been working closely with WW100 Scotland and Argyll and Bute council’s commemorations panel.

The aim is to pull together ideas involving the whole community to commemorate the loss of life and also to recognise and pay respect to the people of Islay who selflessly gave so much.

Ms Minto, the chair of WW100 Scotland, said: ‘The CalMac staff at Kennacraig, Port Ellen and Port Askaig have been brilliant at a very trying time.

‘There are some people who have not been able to get on the ferry they booked but have been allocated an alternative.

‘Walk-ons using the 7am Kennacraig ferry next Friday will be ok, but problems may occur for people who come on spec.

‘Many people who have travelled to other Scottish islands think all they need to do is book accommodation and turn up at the ferry port but they may be disappointed this summer.
‘People on Islay know that they have to plan ahead because they live on an island.’

CalMac has said complications found during repairs to the propulsion system of CalMac’s MV Clansman now mean the vessel will be out of service for longer than anticipated, creating a knock-on effect for many routes.