Pentland Ferries has announced that all of their sailings, which connect the mainland to Orkney, have been suspended until July 18.
It comes as 82 passengers were rescued from the operators’ MV Alfred which ran aground in on the island of Swona in the Pentland Firth on Tuesday.
Sailings were originally due to resume this coming Monday, but the company has been forced to push the date back an extra week.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Pentland Ferries said it was with “very much regret” that all sailings have been suspended up to and including Sunday, July 17 due to the incident earlier this week.
It added: “Pentland Ferries sincerely apologises for the disruption to travel and wish to assure passengers that we are making every effort to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”
The company also said its booking office was “overwhelmed” by phone calls yesterday, adding: “We are currently putting contingency plans in place to contact all those affected by the suspension of service.”
Apologising for the disruption to passengers, it announced that customers will automatically receive a refund for tickets on all cancelled ferries.
‘Testament to what makes Orkney such a special place’
James Stockan, leader of Orkney Islands Council, took to social media to praise the community for its response to the situation faced by Pentland Ferries and those onboard MV Alfred on Tuesday.
“From the moment the news came in that the Alfred had come ashore at Swona, a considerable community response swung into action,” he said.
“From the lifeboat crews, to our marine services team, to the emergency services, to the local accommodation providers, to the community and businesses in the Hope.
“Everyone played their part in responding to what could have been a very terrible situation indeed – which was testament to what makes Orkney such a special place to live, work and visit.”
Northlink additional services
In light of the cancellations NorthLink Ferries has added additional sailings to its timetable to help passengers relying of the vessels to travel.
It will operate extra ferries between Scrabster and Stromness in the evenings up until July 10.
Mr Stockan said the additional services would help support the community: “To lose one route into the county in the height of our tourist season is hugely problematic – for visitors, locals and of course businesses, who will be impacted by freight and delivery issues.
“NorthLink Ferries stepping up to the plate proactively to fill that gap is fantastic – and we look forward to Pentland Ferries getting back on their feet in due course.”