CalMac charters replacement vessel to increase Islay capacity
Ferry operator CalMac has chartered a freight vessel for the next six days to increase capacity on the Islay service.
The island is currently being served by a single vessel, the MV Finlaggan, after the MV Hebridean Isles was taken off the route after a collision with Kennacraig pier last week.
The MV Red Princess, a cargo ship, will ferry car traffic from Kennacraig to Islay and back to ease congestion on the route while the vessel is being repaired.
"This is a stop gap in order to minimise disruption where possible; we are endeavouring to get everyone to Islay and back who wants to go. Unfortunately, it may not be on the sailing originally booked as we have had to amend timetables, but we are all working extremely hard to get people where they want to go and appreciate passengers' understanding," said CalMac's operations director, Drew Collier.
CalMac engineers have also got the Finlaggan's mezzanine vehicle deck back in action to ease queues
"We would urge people to think about whether they need to bring their car to the island over the next week and whether or not they would be prepared to have it shipped separately. We are confident we can get vehicles back to people who choose this option promptly and will provide extra help with luggage and free taxi or minibus transport on the island in the meantime."
The Red Princess cannot carry passengers but will be able to transport 20 cars or a number of commercial vehicle.
"There will be delays due to the nature of the operation unfortunately, however we are determined to continue to deliver a service that meets the needs of island residents and visitors, we appreciate people's patience," he said.
"Our customer contact team will be in touch with everyone who is booked on the service over the next week to let them know what their options are and how we propose to get them to their destination and when. Again we would like to apologise for any inconvenience."
Extra capacity is also being provided on Saturday through private charter to support the Colonsay route which, is also usually served by the MV Hebridean Isles.
It is anticipated that the vessel will be out of service for around a week.
Customers concerned about their journey should contact the customer care helpline on 0800 066 5000.