Waverley has been awarded the prestigious status of National Flagship of the Year by National Historic Ships UK. The award recognises the breadth and geographic coverage of Waverley’s sailings in addition to the extended sailing programme planned for 2024 with a record beating seventy ports and piers included within this year’s cruising itinerary, supported by a dedicated marketing strategy and extensive engagement across major social media platforms.

Throughout the season Waverley will proudly fly a special Flagship Pennant to denote her national status and receive an engraved brass plaque. The Flagship of the Year status has been awarded annually by National Historic Ships UK since 2009 to spotlight vessels on the National Register of Historic Vessels, celebrating their significance and historical value.

Sir Timothy Laurence, husband of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and Patron of Paddle Steamer Waverley, commented, “I am delighted that Waverley has been awarded the title of National Flagship 2024. This reflects not only the very positive impression she has created around the UK in recent years but also the economic benefit she generates wherever she goes. My congratulations to the Waverley team for this well-deserved award.”

Waverley’s ambitious 2024 sailing programme gets underway on Friday 17th May with a weekend of sailings on the Clyde Coast before she sets course for Oban and the Inner Hebrides. As May turns to June Waverley heads south for the Bristol Channel where her sailings last summer were so well received almost all were sold out in advance. The highlight of the 2024 season will be Waverley’s return to the South West and River Dart in late August where she will exchange whistles with Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle as the last two operational paddle steamers in the UK meet for the first time in over a decade. Kingswear Castle celebrates her centenary this year and was previously flagship winner in 2019.

Following Waverley’s successful 2023 season an independent Economic Impact Assessment concluded that passengers aboard the historic vessel contributed an impressive £11.6 million to UK economy, with £6 million in Scotland and £5.6 million across the rest of the UK. This substantial increase represents a remarkable 107% rise from 2015 figures, showcasing Waverley’s growing influence and importance in the maritime and tourism industries. Moreover, the assessment highlighted a significant boost in average passenger expenditure, with onboard spending soaring by 125% between 2015 and 2023. This increase, coupled with a nearly 30% rise in passenger numbers since 2015, underscores Waverley’s expanding appeal and economic significance.

Waverley’s impact extends beyond financial metrics, supporting approximately 184 full-time equivalent jobs, compared to 136 in 2015. At the local level, Waverley’s presence in Argyll and Bute contributes an estimated £1.4 million annually to the local economy. These findings underscore the pivotal role of Waverley in job creation and economic sustainability, particularly in coastal communities.

Beyond the ship’s economic contributions, Waverley stands as a symbol of maritime history and heritage, attracting passengers across a range of generations with her nostalgic charm. Now, fifty years on since being gifted for £1, Waverley engages tens of thousands of passengers and supporters each year with her cruises in several areas of the UK.

Waverley’s recognition with the National Flagship Award 2024 reaffirms her status as an iconic vessel and a testimony to the nation’s shipping legacy. As she prepares to embark on her 2024 cruises, Waverley’s owning charity’s mission remains steadfast to maintain her in full operational condition to give the greatest public access to a living and working steam heritage attraction of national and international significance.

Tickets for sailings across the 2024 season can be booked online at waverleyexcursions.co.uk or by calling 0141 243 2224.