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This blog was written by Serco NorthLink Ferries, a Strategic Partner of the 2022 Annual Lecture. 

Serco NorthLink Ferries are proud to operate the lifeline ferry service from the Scottish Mainland to the Shetland and Orkney islands. In July 2022, Serco will celebrate 10 years operating this service on behalf of the Scottish Government.

For islanders and visitors alike, NorthLink Ferries provide comfortable and reliable sailings, on passenger vessels purpose-built for the routes, and accessible to all. Travellers can expect a service that is testament to the islands’ warmth and friendliness.

Each evening MV Hrossey and MV Hjaltland alternate travelling from Aberdeen and Shetland with regular stops in Orkney. This overnight journey is the longest internal ferry crossing in the UK. Two dedicated freight vessels, MV Hildasay and MV Helliar, also operate on this route.

NorthLink Ferries also operate the shorter Pentland Firth route in the north of Scotland. MV Hamnavoe sails from Scrabster to Stromness throughout the day. This is the only ferry to Orkney which sails past the impressive sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy.

Annually, we carry the equivalent of over 347 thousand passengers and 43 thousand freight trailers. The NorthLink Freight service enables the shipment of goods and services to and from the Northern Isles and is vital for local businesses and residents.

We view ourselves as an integral member of our local communities, serving key sectors within Orkney and Shetland including agriculture and aquaculture. We provide daily connectivity for these sectors enabling them to export their products across the UK and the world.

During the COVID-19 pandemic NorthLink continued to provide the lifeline service to the Northern Isles whilst adhering to all relevant Scottish Government and NHS Scotland guidelines. We play a vital role in marketing Shetland and Orkney as holiday destinations, working in partnership with local tourism organisations. Within the organisation we focus on greener options and workplace wellbeing, we have achieved Platinum Investors in People, Gold Investors in Young People, Gold We Invest in Wellbeing and Investors in Diversity accreditation.

NorthLink Ferries work closely with customers and key stakeholders to ensure that services meet the needs of the Shetland and Orkney economies. We are exceptionally proud of the role we play in the islands supply chain and in the economic wellbeing of our island communities.