Thanks to the support shown by many to the recent public appeal, the classic coastal steamer MV Balmoral will be back in service in 2017.
A spokesperson said: “This welcome news has delighted all involved with owning and operating the historic vessel.”
Despite being the National Historic Ships Flagship of the Year for 2016, Balmoral had a challenging year. Early season technical difficulties resulted in several days’ sailings being cancelled, further cancellations due to bad weather resulted in over a quarter of sailings being lost including the vitally important August Bank Holiday weekend.
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 many loyal Balmoral supporters, as well as many of the thousands of passengers who have sailed on the vessel.
“The appeal was a great success,” said the spokesperson.
Balmoral, 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. She will also be fully resplendent with a new paint job.
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 27-28.
Her full crew will soon be joining, many from last season, under the leadership of last year’s Captain David Howie.
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 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 sailings from Milford Haven, thought to be the first since 1978.
One is around the Haven and River Cleddau, then a special bird-watching nature cruise around Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm islands, then a direct sailing from Milford to Lundy Island giving almost four hours on the remote island.
In addition Balmoral will spend seven days in June, 12 days in July, and 14 in September on the north Wales coastline doing many exciting cruises from Llandudno, Menai Bridge, and other places; sailing to Liverpool around the Isle of Anglesey which is a cruise unique to Balmoral.
Then a first time ever cruise to sail from Wales to Port St Mary on the Isle of Man on June 29 sailing from either Menai Bridge or Llandudno with three hours ashore before back home to Wales.
The spokesperson said: “These cruises are proving very popular with many advance bookings taken.
“The 2017 timetable is packed full of popular trips and cruises not just around Wales but all around the UK from the south coast, the River Thames and even Scotland, the Western Isles and the River Clyde.
“Full details of Balmoral’s sailings and to book tickets at the White Funnel website at www.whitefunnel.co.uk.”