Historic paddle steamer Waverley to operate daily until at least August as she sets sail from Largs with first 2021 passengers

The world’s last sea-going paddle steamer will sail daily until at least mid-August, its operators pledged today as her first cruise of the season was launched from Largs.

PS Waverley carried 260 passengers to Loch Goil and Loch Long in her inaugural 2021 outing after a disastrous season last year and being laid up for the whole of 2019 for boiler replacement.

Sailings ended prematurely last September after the ship hit Brodick pier in Arran, just two weeks after they were finally able to start following the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions.

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Today’s resumption of cruising was also delayed from Saturday by a shortage of crew, as The Scotsman revealed last week.

Waverley sets sail from Largs with the first passenger cruise since last September. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Fine weather greeted the first trip, but capacity aboard has been restricted to 300 passengers – 35 per cent of normal - because of ongoing physical distancing regulations.

Sailings are due to continue from Waverley’s base beside Glasgow Science Centre and more than 12 piers on Clyde.

They will include the first visit to Ardrishaig for 20 years.

The vessel, which celebrates its 75th anniversary later this year, has only missed two seasons since her launch.

Destinations for today's cruises. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Paul Semple, general manager of operator Waverley Excursions, said: “We are delighted to welcome passengers aboard Waverley once again.

"Throughout the winter months, the small core team worked hard to ensure that come summer, the wheels could turn.

"As passengers board at the start of a new season, the ship comes alive and the hard work to get her back in service is well rewarded.

Sailings were delayed from last Saturday by crew shortage. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

"I hope the sound of paddles on the Clyde once again is a welcome sign that summer is here.

"We are exceptionally grateful to the thousands of people who supported our winter appeal to meet the maintenance costs” – which raised £350,000.

Mr Semple said: “Given the variety of Waverley cruises on offer over the coming weeks, we look forward to welcoming back our supporters as well as those members of the public who wish to step aboard a paddle steamer for the first time.”

The general manager described cruise bookings as “strong”, with more than 4,500 tickets over the previous two weeks.

A total of 260 passengers were booked for today's cruises. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Waverley is limited to 300 passengers because of Covid restrictions - 35 per cent of normal capacity. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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