The Background (Selective extract from Waverley Excursions Statement in 2013)
“Since 1986, the Waverley organisation has operated its two ships, Waverley, and Balmoral, each summer on a programme of cruises around the coast of the United Kingdom.
Balmoral’s operation has been hampered increasingly in recent years by extreme weather conditions. This has led to many cancelled or disrupted sailings, which has had a significant impact on that ship’s contribution to operating results. Waverley’s timetable is less susceptible to such disruptions.
Clearly, we are unable to predict the weather for 2013, but none of the forecasters is predicting a significant improvement over recent years. After taking a wide range of considerations into account, we have decided, reluctantly, that it would be too great a risk to operate Balmoral next year and that doing so would increase the threat to the future of both ships. We are not in a position to take such a risk and so we will not be operating Balmoral on a programme of cruises in 2013.
At the moment Balmoral is being looked after on a care and maintenance basis by volunteers in Bristol. We are looking at alternative ways of utilising the ship in 2013 and, over the coming months, we will seek to identify a robust operating programme to offer the prospect of returning her to service in 2014 and beyond.
This has been a very difficult decision but we consider that it offers the best way in the current circumstances to ensure Waverley’s continued operation.”
In 1985, BALMORAL was bought by supporters of WAVERLEY, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, and after major renovation, triumphantly re-entered service in 1986 as support ship to WAVERLEY. Further major work, carried out with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, was undertaken in 2003. This included new engines and refurbishment of the ship’s Dining Saloon. Since then, further restoration of passenger facilities has been carried out, most notably of the ship’s main Britannia Lounge, with support from The People’s Lottery.
Since 1986, BALMORAL has been based on the Bristol Channel but has also cruised from all areas of the UK Coast, carrying over two million passengers and, with Paddle Steamer WAVERLEY, keeping alive the great tradition of coastal day excursions. Like WAVERLEY, BALMORAL is a member of the National Historic Fleet, and officially recognised as a ship of national historic importance.
BALMORAL is currently based in Bristol, with maintenance carried out by a dedicated band of volunteers who, with their predecessors, have supported the ship since her operational preservation began in 1986. The co-operation of Bristol City Docks and Bristol Council has been essential to enable this to happen at a time when finances have dictated that BALMORAL is not operating her traditional programme of cruises. It is hoped that the ship will be available for static events in Bristol City Centre at some stage.
BALMORAL has undergone a major survey in May 2014 at Sharpness drydock. The cost of this, together with the other necessary costs of bringing the ship back into passenger service, will be £350,000.
Please note that this article is published on the CRSC website as a gesture of support for the MV Balmoral and in the spirit of the Club’s stated aims. Information on the Appeal is provided as a means to “spread the word” on behalf of the Appeal organisers and is not intended to reflect any direct endorsement by the CRSC Committee.