PENARTH Tourism and Visitor Association has expressed its disappointment after the latest summer timetable showed only six sailings of the hugely popular Waverley paddle steamer from the town.
A spokesman from VisitPenarth said it was “sombre news for Penarth and the many businesses that have traditionally catered for visitors to the town” that there will only be summer sailings on six days from Penarth Pier in early September
“These will be the only sailings throughout the long season, whilst many other seaside resorts across the UK, especially in Scotland, get an enhanced level of paddle steamer sailings,” he said.
He added: “Also, this year there will be no sailings during the Penarth Summer Festival in July, due to the fact that the sister ship M/V "Balmoral" is laid up, and requires around £300,000 of work to bring her back into service, if that proves possible.”
The Waverley paddle steamer is set for a day trip to Lundy Island for an annual church service on August 31, a trip to Ilfracombe on September 2 and a cruise to Clevedon via the River Severn and Holm Islands on September 3.
There will also be cruises to the Holm Islands on September 5, Porlock Bay on September 6 and to Ilfracombe, featuring the Festival of the Sea, on September 7.
A VisitPenarth spokesman added: “It is positive news that there will still be a handful of sailings from Penarth - the downside is that these will be after the children return to school following the summer break.”
A spokeswoman from Waverley Excursions said that they shared Penarth residents disappointments at the number of sailing out of the area, but that there were a number of reasons behind the timetable.
“Ideally would like to run more but there are a number of factors at play in the planning of our timetable including:
we have only one ship in operation with which we are trying to serve 70 ports around the UK; the funding agreement with the HLF at the time of Waverley's rebuild, Waverley is contracted to sail in Scotland for 13 weeks of each year;
the support Waverley receives from Scottish councils to support her sailings;
the high costs of operation in the Bristol Channel.”
She added that the decision not to operate the Balmoral in 2013 had proved “to be the right decision on a financial basis” and that a separate company, Balmoral Fund Ltd, had been set up to try and put the ship back into service.
The Balmoral currently needs £350,000 to be raised so that it can be brought back to pleasure cruising in 2015.
A website has been set up to help with fundraising www.heritagesteamers.co.uk/balmoral.
For the Waverley timetable of Penarth sailings go to: http://www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk/plan-your-trip/bristol-channel/timetable/