Waverley cast off from Glasgow this morning (Saturday 28th May) for her first trip “Doon the Watter” in what is a milestone year for the famous Clyde steamer. In just under three weeks she will celebrate the 75th anniversary of her maiden voyage.
Waverley Excursions General Manager, Paul Semple, commented “It is fantastic to see the first passengers step aboard as a new season begins. Watching Waverley cast off is the ultimate reward after the endless hours of hard toil from our dedicated volunteers and crew over the winter months.”
This summer Waverley will leave her home waters on the Firth of Clyde for the first time since before the pandemic. In early June she will return to Oban and Skye offering a variety of trips around the Inner Hebrides including cruises to Staffa and the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. In late August after the main Clyde summer season Waverley will head south to English and Welsh waters with London as her ultimate destination.
Mr Semple commented further “I am delighted Waverley is back in service, but deeply concerned on how we can cover operating costs this season given the current fuel price. The focus over the past few weeks has been on getting everything ship shape for passengers. Now Waverley is sailing daily I am faced with the stark reality of buying fuel at a cost which has increased by more than 50% since 2021. We have, very reluctantly, introduced a modest fuel surcharge of £3 to go a little way towards keeping the paddles turning.
Despite this I am determined that as many people as possible will step aboard to enjoy the unique experience of sailing on the World’s last seagoing paddle steamer. We have several schools booked to travel in the coming weeks and throughout the summer there are many free trips for kids. For Waverley to survive we need the next generation to sail and work on her. She also needs the continued support of the general public in the coming months or we will face a serious financial crisis that will put her continued operation at risk.”
In 2020 new modern boilers were installed following a major fundraising appeal, but they burn fuel at a rate of over £11 per minute, an average daily fuel bill that tops £7,000.
Tickets for all of Waverley’s Scottish sailings are now on sale at waverleyexcursions.co.uk, by calling 0141 243 2224, or can purchased on board. This year’s highlights include special sailings over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, a cruise from Glasgow to Oban on June 6 and the return to Ayr and Girvan offering trips round Ailsa Craig during July and August.