The ferries are full.

The mis-match between capacity and demand on the Craignure-Oban service is becoming extreme. It is now very difficult to travel with certainty unless you book weeks in advance. This is in part due to the very low ‘covid safe’ passenger limits, and in part due to to high vehicle numbers, particularly campervans that consume a lot of deck space.

We are hearing reports of how this is impacting in some extreme cases – for example mourners unable to attend an island funeral; a patient transfer ambulance that could not be offered a space for nearly a week; and multiple people having difficulty making important appointments including hospital visits.

If you have had experiences relating to unavailable ferry space that you think are unacceptable, please let us know by emailing us. We are raising this subject firmly with CalMac, government and Transport Scotland. If we know the full extent of the problem, it will help with those representations.

7 thoughts on “The ferries are full.

  1. Ann Maceachen (Gordon) 20th June 2021 — 1:11 pm

    Lobby Transport Scotland for priority booking/boarding for Island residents.
    Kerrera did and got it with only 60 residents..

  2. Good morning. Its always struck me how ludicrous it has been that (especially since RET was introduced) there hasn’t been a permanent space for an Ambulance on EVERY sailing. Absolutely essential I would think. Also my suggestion for island residents being that say 12 spaces (a suggested number) be reserved on each sailing and should they not be taken up there will always be visitors clamouring to take up those spaces. Cal Mac will never lose out on revenue especially in the summer months. In the winter this is adjusted accordingly.proportionate to the fact that numbers do fall. I stand corrected but I am pretty sure this echoes the anger and frustration of all island residents (certainly this is what I hear all the time in conversations). I will re-iterate, I do not own a car but that does not mean I don’t care hence me writing in response once more. I continue to be grateful to you all for all the hard work you put in much much appreciated. I hope I have made some sense. Thank you, Heather.

  3. My wife had notification of an appointment at the hospital in Oban with a week’s notice. The appointment was at 1.00pm. The only boat we could book to go over on was the 8.00am and the only one to return on was the 6.20pm: a full day in Oban for an hour at the hospital. To give credit where due, the CalMac team in Oban did manage to squeeze us on to the slightly earlier Coruisk sailing. We think it is important that any pressure we can bring to bear is directed at the CalMac board and the Scottish Government, not the people ‘on the ground’. Immediately, however, some system which addresses the needs of island residents is very obviously needed.

  4. Georgia Satchel 22nd June 2021 — 6:04 pm

    I emailed the Scottish Government about this a couple of weeks ago after receiving an email from Calmac encouraging me to ‘get in early and book your winter break’. This type of communication gives the impression that their priority is to fill boats with visitors rather than provide a lifeline service for residents.

  5. My elderly mother was admitted to hospital in Birminghsm and was unable to be released as she had no carers in place. I would have gone for a week or so to care for her till formal care was sorted out, but couldn’t get on a ferry with certainty. Just turning up and hoping to get on wouldn’t be an option due to having to make arrangements with the hospital. Why can’t we have one ferry a day, each way, just reserved for islanders. Any spaces not used could be filled by standby places for visitors. This may seem extreme, but we are in extreme times and islanders deserve to have equality of travel with those living on the mainland. Many people here haven’t been able to leave the island fir over a year due to restrictions

  6. They should double the price for these camper vans. It’s about time the numbers of these coming onto the island was restricted. They come on full of food, clog the roads up, fill the bins up and then leave the island and half of them are hopeless at driving too

    1. Absolutely spot on Ian £200 a time what ever is left after calmac take there bit put in to a island pot to be divided between different causes. Look what happened today on the Isle of Lewis when the camper went on Fire on the car Deck. Calmac might take a bit of notice now.

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