Thursday, April 25, 2013

Debacle in Shetland: Travel by Ferry

Before my trip to Shetland, I'd taken the MV Hrossey twice: once in 2004, and then again back in October. The Hrossey and the MV Hjaltland constantly rotate on the run up to Shetland, stopping at Kirkwall on some of those runs. For this trip to Shetland, I elected to get a cabin on both legs of the trip so that I could get some sleep and a shower before arriving in Shetland, and back in Aberdeen. I was on the Hrossey ("Rossey") for the trip up on Monday, and on the Hjaltland ("Yaltland") for Wednesday's trip back down.

Many years ago, my family took two cruises aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship MS Viking Serenade, which Wikipedia (the undisputed and infallible source of all knowledge) claims was built as a "cruiseferry" in the first place. At any rate, the cabins aboard the Hrossey and the Hjaltland remind me of the ones my family slept in aboard the Viking Serenade. The Hrossey and Hjaltland are considerably smaller, of course, with only two decks of space available for passengers to move about.

Deck five consists of berths and the reception desk, while deck six has a forward lounge, movie theater, gift shop, midships bar, and aft dining room. An observation deck on deck six, abaft the dining area, overlooks the mooring gear on deck five, as well as the area behind the ship. In addition to other available menu items, the dining room makes a point of showcasing Orkney beef and Shetland lamb. Another observation deck, possibly on deck eight, gives a much more extensive view restricted only by the ship's exhaust stacks and bridge. With camera in hand, on both the sailings, I was the last man standing on the upper observation deck once we'd departed.

The service is operated by under the Northlink Ferries brand, the contract for which was taken over by Serco Group PLC, which submitted the winning bid to the Scottish Government in what has become a somewhat controversial development among the Islanders. Regardless, the Northlink crews provide a great service, and although my October sailing to Orkney left me pretty nauseous, my other three passages have been excellent. My first cabin had two berths and a porthole, while my second cabin was internal and had four berths. I know what you're all asking yourselves, and the answer is: "Yes, of course I slept on the top bunk. Who wouldn't?"

No comments:

Post a Comment