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CalMac ferry concerns?

Will be in Ullapool in July and considering ferry to Lewis. However, have become aware of concerns over the reliability of CalMac ferries in recent years. Would love to hear from those with recent experience, good or bad. Thanks

Posted by
2 posts

We took the CalMac ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway and from Tarbet to Uig September 2023. We had no knowledge of reliability issues as our travel agent had booked our passage along with our car. The ferries both sailed as scheduled. The line for cars to get on at Ullapool was huge, so it was good we had a reservation (made a couple of months before). (I think the line at Tarbet was also large, but we arrived super early so we were at the front of the line, and we had a reservation.) Once on board and parked, we made it to an upper deck with airline-type seats looking forward through reasonably clean windows. We were able to relax, buy a beverage, and use the clean WC during our passage.

Posted by
6722 posts

CalMac may have its problems, but the ferry from Ullapool is one of the newest in the fleet. It is also a priority route for CalMac due to the large amount of freight which uses it.
While no ferry route, or air route, can have a guarantee on it, this is one route where there really shouldn't be issues. Sign up for updates, sometimes they have to sail early due to weather. Sometimes they even have relief sailings if there have been weather issues, or open the overnight freight only sailings to passengers. Those are on the same ship as the day sailings.
They will do everything they can to keep you moving.

Recently there was a comparison published with Washington State Ferries which showed that CalMac was far more reliable than WSF.

Posted by
1225 posts

The ferries are a lifeline for those of us who live on the islands (less so for me admittedly as Skye has a bridge but I travel to Lewis frequently). Ullapool to Stornaway is a major freight route and the vessel used is the newest in the fleet. Make sure you have a reservation if taking a car or you won't get on!

Posted by
51 posts

Thanks all. I feel reassured. Will get to booking right away as I waited on our last trip and all the car spaces were gone well in advance of the travel date. Safe travels, all.