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Paddle steamer Waverley’s first passenger cruise since 2018 cancelled

© Ross Crae / DCT MediaPS Waverley berthed at the Glasgow Science Centre on Friday morning
PS Waverley berthed at the Glasgow Science Centre on Friday morning

The Waverley’s first passenger sailing on the Clyde since 2018 has been cancelled after operators encountered an “unexpected technical and administration issue”.

The paddle steamer was due to depart her Glasgow base on Friday morning, with stops at Kilcreggan and Rothesay scheduled for the afternoon’s sailing.

It follows major boiler work on the historic vessel, funded by a campaign which raised £2.3m.

A statement from the ship’s operators, Waverley Excursions, said: “We regret to inform all passengers that due to an unexpected technical and administration issue Waverley will not be able to operate.

“We sincerely apologise to all those due to sail today. We will make a further announcement regarding tomorrow’s sailing later today.”

While weather conditions were poor, Friday’s sailing was due to mark the return of the much-missed sight and sound of the historic ship making her way ‘doon the watter’.

She was forced out of action by a boiler issue in 2018, work on which was completed this summer, giving a short window to run some sailings.

The planned cruises, which will take in trips to Millport, Brodick, Blairmore and several other Clyde destinations, will be operating at limited capacity due to social distancing measures.

The ship only moved under her own power again last week, but undertook a number of successful sea trials in the upper Clyde to prepare for her return.

Cruises will be offered until Sunday September 6, with booking essential on the Waverley Excursions website.

Paul Semple, general manager, said: “Given the level of support for Waverley, we are delighted she will be able to offer a short series of cruises on the Clyde.

“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.”

Further fundraising will be required to help secure the ship’s future, having missed a full summer of cruises last year.

This year sees the sailing season reduced from the usual five months to just two weeks.

Mr Semple added: “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.”