Hebridean Princess will not be coming to Fort William

Hebridean Princess off Inveraray
Hebridean Princess off Inveraray

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The first cruise ship scheduled to arrive in Fort William this year has decided not to sail at all.

The Hebdridean Princess was meant to be arriving in Loch Linnhe on Wednesday March 25, but operator, Hebridean Island Cruises, will not be sailing anywhere.

Two ships scheduled to arrive in April have been cancelled.

Hebridean Island Cruises’ Managing Director, Ken Charleson, said: ‘Hebridean Princess will not be visiting Fort William this week or anywhere else.

‘The ship is currently in Greenock and out of service due to the coronavirus outbreak.

‘We are unsure as to when we will resume cruising as this will be under Government guidelines.’

The Hebridean Princess is scheduled to come back to Fort William in September, the company hopes some form of normality will resume by then, but are strictly following government guidance.

This news follows a weekend where it was announced that only essential travel was to be allowed between Scotland’s islands and the mainland, restaurants, pubs and many shops have closed, and both the local MP and MSP made public statements telling people not to come to the Highlands.

The UK government has cross-party support on a bill giving them unprecedented powers to manage the current crisis and making infringement punishable by law.

In a post that was shared more than 8,000 times on Facebook, Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, told people not to use the Highlands ‘as your means of self-isolation.’ and that ‘non-essential travel must stop.’

MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Ian Blackford, later called for all tourist accommodation to be shut and the right for tourist camper vans to come to the region to be revoked to all but those on essential working engagements.

He also called on all activities providers such as ski resorts and the Jacobite Steam Train that runs from Fort William to Mallaig, to also be closed.

He said: ‘My message to tourists is in the Highlands we are renowned for the welcome we provide. Once we have defeated this virus we will of course welcome you back. For those visiting the Highlands just now, please leave. Please go home. For anyone thinking of coming to the Highlands just don’t.’