Delaying, changing or cancelling a sailing is a decision we don't take lightly at Caledonian MacBrayne. We know it will inconvenience our customers and the communities we serve.
When we need to make such a decision, it is because the safety of our customers and our crew must always come first.
How these decisions are reached
When a sailing is delayed, changed or cancelled due to the weather, the Master of the vessel will have judged that this is necessary. They have made a detailed assessment of conditions using their knowledge and experience interpreting the best available weather forecasts, and their own expertise in understanding the localised conditions experienced on individual routes.
CalMac has the use of a dedicated and quality controlled weather forecast service using qualified marine forecasters. This ensures that weather forecasts available to CalMac are maintained to the highest levels of accuracy. Moreover, our Masters have access 24/7/365 to a duty marine forecaster for specialist advice.
Our Masters are well qualified and have extensive experience - they are confident and trusted by us to make these difficult judgements.
Their authority to take such decisions as necessary to ensure the safety of the vessel and of passengers and crew is well established in maritime law - and once taken, is a decision that's both supported and owned by CalMac.
Considerations involved in making decisions
Each decision is individual in nature and will be based on a number of considerations. Examples may include:
The current weather conditions; the comparison of actual weather conditions against forecast weather; the weather conditions predicted during the passage; and/or conditions at each port on the route, where the situation may differ.
The unique parameters of the vessel - each one is different and has its own capabilities and thresholds, best known to our seafarers.
The impact on passenger comfort.
Protecting the resilience of the service in the longer term - for example, avoiding damage to infrastructure or vessels.
We consider ourselves privileged to sail in this part of the world. However, being on the edge of the North Atlantic basin does present variable weather conditions, which at times can produce some very severe conditions. We take disruptions to our service seriously. Our focus is always to put people first in everything that we do - our customers and the communities we serve - as well as our port and vessel teams. Sometimes, on account of weather conditions, that means we must put people's safety first.
How to stay informed about disruptions
Stay up to date on our service through our website, downloading our app or following our Twitter @CalMac_Updates through which we provide customers with updates using the latest information we have available. Alternatively, you can also sign up to our service status text updates.