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Caithness News Bulletins June 2007

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Superferry "Norröna" Puts Scrabster On International Route Map

The superferry Norröna owned by Smyril Line was welcomed on Monday evening with bagpipes and champagne as a new ferry service to Norway and the Faroe Islands became a reality.  This is Scotland's first mainland ferry service to these countries.

The quayside welcome for the north Atlantic superferry Norröna at Scrabster, Caithness, marked the launch of the country's newest mainland international service.

At Scrabster

Thousands of holiday-makers from the two Nordic states are expected to arrive in the Highlands this summer using the weekly service.

Last night’s maiden sailing from the Faroese capital Torshavn trip saw VIPs from the islands government among the 150 or so passengers disembarking at Scrabster.  The ferry is built to the highest quality standards and is rated amongst the top cruise liners offering passengers a fantastic stay on board.

They were welcomed ashore by port officials to the sound of the pipes and drums of Caithness Junior Pipe Band.

After clearing customs, they were bussed to a nearby hotel for a champagne reception with local dignatories.

The arrival of the 36,000-tonne Norröna means Scotland now has two mainland international ferry connections after the Rosyth-Zebrugge service.

Faroese operator Smyril Line's decision to return to Scrabster after a decade is a welcome boost to efforts to regenerate the economy of Caithness.

William Calder, chairman of Scrabster Harbour Trust, said: "We have worked very hard to establish Scrabster and Caithness as a quality destination and the inclusion of Scrabster on the itinerary of the Norröna promises to generate more new business in tourism and trade for the region.

"There are strong business ties between Caithness and the Faroe Islands and these can only be strengthened by the new service. Since 1996, a twice-weekly cargo service has run from Faroes to Scrabster, bringing an average of 28,000 tonnes of fish through the harbour each year.

"In addition, the cumulative value of fish landings made by Faroese fishing vessels at Scrabster over the last five years has exceeded £50 million. It's estimated that the Norröna will be worth in excess of £2 million to the Highland economy.

"The Faroes is an important trading partner for Scrabster and the Highlands. Vessel maintenance, renewable energy, oil production and logistics offer significant opportunities to strengthen and expand our links further."

The Norröna berthed at Scrabster at 2100 hrs and sailed later in the evening for Bergen.

Description Of The Ship
“Norröna” is both a passenger and cargo ship. The passenger part is of a cruise ship standard, so that the time on board becomes a natural part of the travellers' holiday.

The cabins
The cabins are extremely well fitted out. There are for instance sofa-beds in all cabins – i.e. sofa during the day and bed at night. All cabins have also TV, bath and wc, wardrobes, writing desk and dressing table, trouser press and fridge. In addition all outboard cabins have trouser press and fridge. In addition all outboard cabins have panoramic windows.

Many modern facilities
Passengers have many possibilities to pass the time on board “Norröna”, which has swimming pool and fitness centre with sunbeds and sauna, and a large and good playroom for the children. There will be a large selection of goods in the shops, which will be approx. three times the size of those on board the present ship. There will be great emphasis on passenger comfort, in order to make sure that all will enjoy a feeling of well-being and relaxation. That is why all the passenger areas are situated on the outboard side of the ship with panoramic views, whilst service areas, such as shops, stores, kitchens and pantries are situated inboard on the ship.

A tranquil ship
All that can be done, has been done, in order that the travellers are not disturbed by noise, vibration or rolling. The model of the “Norröna” which is approx. eight meters in length, was no fewer than 15 times in the test tank in Hamburg, where it got a very good recommendation. The normal procedure is that the lower rating the ship receives on a test rating ladder from 1 to 10, the better the ship is. The model of the new North Atlantic cruise-ferry received a final 1.8 on the test rating ladder in Hamburg. Only very few cruise-liners receive such good results.

Large cargo space
Special emphasis has been made in order that as much cargo as possible can be carried on the ship to and from the Faroe Islands, because during the winter time there is great need for cargo space. The “Norröna” has three times the capacity for both trailers and cars, compared with the “Norröna I”. The cargo capacity is 3,250 tonnes, that means that with two return trips per week, she can carry 2 x 2 x 3,250 = 13,000 tonnes of cargo with the ship per week during the winter months. That is the same as 400 trailers of 40 ft. In this calculation the number of cars is put at a maximum of 50 cars per trip during the winter, due to the fact that the number of passengers decreases. There will, however, always be a mixture of both passengers and cargo all the year around.

The daily operation of the ship
The crew is at most numbering 118 persons, all depending on the number of passengers carried. The engine room does not require a watch and can be manned by five men against 10 on the present ship. A total of 14 persons can operate the new ship – three on the bridge, five in the engine room and six on the deck