A MUCH loved historical ship which sails from Penarth Pier will be out on the waters again this year after a successful fundraising appeal raised £290,000.

Following an appeal launched by the company which owns the ship, the classic coastal steamer MV Balmoral will be back in service for the 2017.

Despite being the National Historic Ships Flagship of the Year for 2016, Balmoral had a challenging year last summer.

Early season technical difficulties resulted in several days sailings being cancelled and further cancellations due to bad weather resulted in over a quarter of sailings being lost including the important August Bank Holiday weekend and left a shortfall of between £350,000 and £500,000.

The ship returned after a three year lay off in 2015 in part thanks to support from the people of Penarth and a £1000 donation from the town council.

The trustees of the MV Balmoral Fund Ltd the owners of the historic vessel, took the decision last October to launch an appeal to raise sufficient funds to ensure that she could sail again in 2017.

Donations came from loyal Balmoral supporters and thousands of passengers who have enjoyed sailing on the vessel.

Balmoral, the last flagship of the famous P&A Campbell White Funnel fleet, is shortly to come out of dry dock after a refit which should leave her technical problems behind her complete with a new paint job.

Organisers say there is still much to do in the two weeks remaining before she starts her full 113 day summer season in just two weeks, on the weekend of May 27 and May 28.

Her full crew will soon be joining, many from last season, under the leadership of last year’s captain David Howie.

He will work the crew up in all safety drills and operations before the ships stores are loaded, food, beer, wine, tea and coffee and souvenirs etc. are all brought onboard - then Balmoral will be ready.

On the Bristol Channel Balmoral, will sail for 54 days from May 26 to June 4 and then her main summer session of July 26 to September 4.

She will sail on 33 different days from her principle departure point Penarth’s historic Pier on some days calling as often as four times during a day.

There will also be sailings from Porthcawl, Swansea and Briton Ferry.

This year there are three new very special sailings from Milford Haven, thought to be the first since 1978.

The 2017 Timetable is packed full of trips and cruises not just around Wales but all around the UK from the south coast, the River Thames and even Scotland, the For full details of Balmoral's sailings and to book tickets go to the White Funnel website at www.whitefunnel.co.uk