A SUPERFERRY costing £42m which is too big to berth does not have a bar, angry islanders have complained.
The giant MV Loch Seaforth is so big it will have to wait until the summer for port facilities on the Western Isles to be upgraded before it can transport cars and foot passengers.
But islanders’ dismay has been compounded by the “scandalous” revelation that the 116 metre vessel lacks a dedicated watering hole.
Instead, thirsty travellers will have to make do with buying alcoholic beverages in the ship’s fifth deck “Coffee Cabin” or “Mariners’ Cafeteria”.
Crossings from the mainland to Stornoway are well known for their “lively” atmosphere and many locals fear the three-hour trip across The Minch will become a tedious affair.
The current vessel that travels between Stornoway and Ullapool, the smaller, 100 metre Isle of Lewis, gives over much of the stern to a cavernous boozer, called the Still Bar, which is frequently jammed.
Operators Caledonian MacBrayne insist the lack of a bar on the new boat reflects a change in “public tastes”.
But island councillor Donald John MacRae complained: “It’s scandalous spending millions on a ferry with no bar area.”
He said the crossing was particularly busy in the summer, especially during the Gaelic music festivals known as the “Mods”.
Cllr MacRae said: “People would sit in the bar area jamming away. It’s great.
“And during the Hebcelt Festival that’s what they do. Not having a bar is taking that away.
“It’s a bad idea. If you get alcohol it’s better you get alcohol from a bar than a cafe.”
A Stornoway resident, who asked not the be named, said: “I know a cove who works on the ferry and he told me there wasn’t going to be a bar.
“At first I thought he was taking the p***. CalMac weren’t publicising that at all that there isn’t going to be a bar on it.
“As along as I can remember there’s always been a bar on the ferry. It’s part of the tradition of getting on the ferry.”
On social media @crispyanne joined in the row, writing: “Even my wee granny was concerned about this.”
Despite the lack of a dedicated bar, the ferry will have central arcade with a coffee shop, children’s area and games machines.
The ferry, originally due to enter service last year, has already been plagued with setbacks because it is too big to berth.
It is currently sailing up and down the west coast of Scotland on “crew familiarisation exercises” while work to the pier in Stornoway continues.
A CalMac spokesman said: “We are continually reviewing the needs of our customers and over a number of years it has become clear that the requirement for a dedicated bar has reduced as public tastes change.
“Alcoholic drinks are available on board the Seaforth through the Mariners Cafeteria and a Coffee Cabin.”
He added: “This is not unique to the MV Loch Seaforth. We have been changing the way alcohol is sold on ships for some time and the last large ship to join the fleet, MV Finlaggan, in 2011, provides alcoholic drinks in the same way.”