CalMac ferry guilt, the latest tourist shame

Ferry guilt, def. that feeling that washes over you as you stand on the stern of the boat, looking back over a calm Minch and the sun setting like a ball of fire and feel really you shouldn’t be here because actually a local should have had your space on this CalMac ferry. I am, of course, speaking for myself here, having just spent a week on Harris and Lewis, in which I’ve been well aware of islanders who have struggled to get a car on the ferry routes between the island and Ullapool or Uig on Skye. This is mostly because Covid restrictions have limited ferries to a third of their normal capacity. The result is I’m suffering from the latest tourist shame – not flygskam, but ferryskam.

Last weekend the Herald on Sunday revealed that when they checked availability on the Uig to Tarbert (Harris) route, there had been no car spaces till August 11.

Well, at least you didn’t steal a car space from a local on the Arran ferry…

Indeed. We’ve heard a lot about the problems on Arran – and how when the MV Loch Seaforth (actually the ferry I took out to Stornoway) broke down, the MV Isle of Arran was sent up to service the Lewis route, depriving Arran of one of its ferries. But actually the Arran route is currently not the worst. According to the Herald on Sunday the worst hit service, in terms of when it was next possible to book a ferry, provided by CalMac is Mallaig on the Highlands’ west coast to Lochboisdale on South Uist.

You didn’t take a campervan or motorhome did you? Please say you didn’t – because even worse than ferry shame is motorhome shame.

No. But we do have a family estate car, which is quite long. Also, if it makes it seem any better, we spent quite a bit of money on the island – surf lessons, food, cottage rental, bike hire. I’m sure we contributed to the island economy.

Islanders’ fury over Scots ferry travel ‘lottery’ with no space for cars for more than three weeks on one route

Hmmm… That’s what they all say. Bet you think putting an extra pound in the honesty box is enough to justify your visit.

Those Croft36 frangipani tarts were well worth it…. But us tourists do contribute. It’s been estimated that Arran is losing at least £113,000 a day in lost income because of the Covid restrictions on ferries.

What about the relatives travelling to funerals? Locals trying to get to hospital? Or farmers unable to get cattle to market?

Yeah, that’s all a terrible shame. But is it my fault? Shouldn’t we blame CalMac and the Scottish Government, not little old me?

Well, that’s a whole other ‘issue of the day’. But while we’re on the issue of your own personal shame, there’s also the question of all the tourists bringing Covid to the islands.

I know. I know. (Not guilty.) And bringing our rubbish and our footprints and everything else we bring. There is no end to the shames of the tourist. We should really all, as has been said many times in this past year, stay at home – possibly forever, but at least until the current pandemic is over.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992