Paddle steamer Waverley to resume Clyde cruises

Passengers will be able to sail aboard the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer from Friday after life-saving boiler replacement

The "rejuvenated" Waverley undergoing sea trials in the Clyde last week. Picture: Waverley Excursions.
The "rejuvenated" Waverley undergoing sea trials in the Clyde last week. Picture: Waverley Excursions.

Waverley returns to service from her Glasgow base for a two-week season after being out of action since 2018.

The severely truncated season compared to the planned five months of trips means a new fundraising appeal will be launched shortly to help make up for the lost revenue.

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It follows a successful campaign to raise £2.3 million for new boilers to keep the 73-year-old vessel operating.

Waverley leaving Greenock last week following the completion of boiler replacement work. Picture: Waverley Excursions.

The steamer will be able to accommodate far fewer than the normal number of passengers because of distancing restrictions, which will further reduce income.

The repairs in Greenock meant Waverley missed an entire season for only the second time in her history – and most of this year’s too.

Rothesay will be the ship’s first destination on Friday, followed by Loch Long and Loch Goil on Saturday, and around Bute on Sunday.

Other cruises will include to Arran, Dunoon and Tarbert from various departure points.

Waverley returning to her berth last week at the Glasgow Science Centre. Picture: Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

‘Funding challenge’

Paul Semple, general manager of operator Waverley Excursions, said: “Waverley’s boiler refit has been completed after being delayed due to lockdown.

"The ship moved under her own power last week and undertook successful sea trials in the upper Firth of Clyde before returning to Glasgow.

“Given the level of support for Waverley, we are delighted she will be able to offer a short series of cruises on the Clyde from Friday 21 August until Sunday 6 September.

Waverley undergoing boiler replacement at James Watt Dock in Greenock. Picture: Waverley Excursions.

"A revised sailing programme will be in operation due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions with a reduced number of calling points, reduced capacity and increased time to board and disembark passengers.

"We are hopeful that there will be sufficient demand, with many eager to step aboard a rejuvenated Waverley.

“With the length of Waverley’s sailing season being reduced from five months to just over two weeks due to Covid-19, this will present a funding challenge as we try to cover the costs associated with the coming winter period.

"We will therefore welcome all possible support to ensure Waverley can survive beyond Covid-19.

A spokesperson added: "We will shortly launch our Waverley Covid Appeal to help raise essential funds.”

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