A MUCH loved coastal steamer is set to sail from Penarth again this year.

The MV Balmoral's 2016 timetable has just been finalised and plans for a 53% increase from last year, to 34 sailing days.

Those who run the vessel said they hope it benefits the local economy given the numbers of passengers who will be passing through.

They have also stressed that it is essential the shop makes a healthy trading profit this year to have "sufficient funds" to cover overheads and next year's maintenance costs.

The vessel lost 25% of her sailing days when she returned to the waters off Penarth in 2015 after a three year absence.

Her return was partly down to financial support from Penarth Town Council.

Organisers have said they plan an "ambitious" sailing season of 117 days but admit it will also be challenging.

The Balmoral has heated lounges, a bar and restaurant and capacity for up to 500 passengers.

It is hoped that Balmoral's many sailings in and out of her most popular pier will add to the economic prosperity of Penarth, resulting from the thousands of passengers that it is anticipated will come in and out of the town to join or depart the vessel.

The 1949 Classic Coastal Cruising Vessel starts her season with a week on the Bristol Channel from Friday, May 13 to Tuesday, May 24 and ends there on the weekend of Sunday, October 2.

She will also be sailing her home waters of the Bristol Channel for the busy summer holiday period Tuesday,July 26 to Monday, September 5.

That makes a grand total of 52 days at her traditionally popular Wales and West Country piers, ports and harbours. coming in and out of Penarth’s historic pier for two trips during the day.

There will be the opportunity of sailing over the channel to Clevedon, up the River Avon into Bristol under Brunel’s famous suspension bridge, three bridge cruises up the rivers Seven and Usk as well as popular down channel sailings to Ilfracombe, Minehead and Watchet.

There will also be several sailings from Porthcawl, Swansea and also a very special trip from Briton Ferry on Sunday August 21.

She will be calling at 55 different harbours ports and piers around the UK with many of the traditional destinations but also some new ones.

For full details of Balmoral’s excursion timetable and to book tickets go to www.whitefunnel.co.uk or call 0117 325 6200