Shetland weeks are designed to fit in with the ferry time table and consist of 2 dives a day for each of 6 days. The charters start and end in Lerwick where the ferry docks though I try and cover as much of Shetland as I can in the week. Most of the wrecks are around Lerwick harbour but there are many other interesting areas worthy of exploration. I try to do all the main steaming out at the start of the week and then bimble back. Having said this, the week is yours with an itinerary as flexible as you want. Obviously weather also plays a part but tides have little to no impact on planning.
The Usual Week’s Itinerary…
- Ferry docks in Lerwick at 0730.
- Transfer to Halton
- Dive 1: usually around 10.00am
- Dive 2: Usually around 14.00pm
Monday to Thursday
- Two dives per day, morning and afternoon with a break for lunch.
- A normal week usually finds the boat steaming north at the start of the week with usually a long day either Sunday or Monday to cover some miles, then a slow bimble south again during the week at a more relaxed pace.
- The Halton is usually back in Lerwick by Thursday night.
- Dive 1: early-ish start, ropes off at 8.00, in the water for 08.30am
- Dive 2: usually around 13.00
- Lerwick: usually back by 15.00
- Ferry depart: 17.30
Please note: I try and keep Saturdays free as a change over/ boat clean/ crew rest day.
Travel to Shetland
The main way to Shetland is via the Northlink Ferries. The route runs from Aberdeen to Lerwick, and travels through the night.
▸ Operation News which lets you know of any last minute changes due to weather etc.
Northlink Dive Equipment Information
Northlink have a number of policies and procedures in place to do with traveling with dive equipment. They are reasonably straightforward and easy to follow but can be summarised as follows.
Fill out a dangerous goods form to bring full cylinders. There is a guide and a form on their website: ▸ Northlink Dive Equipment Policy
They will supply a container (which has been free historically) to load dive kit so you can leave cars in Aberdeen. Ring in advance to secure the container.
Northlink are very good. The ferries are modern, clean, punctual and well stocked with bars and restaurants. Cabins are recommended (though not obligatory if you want to save a £) and come in a range of sizes to suit your wallet. My normal recommendation is to leave your car in Aberdeen to save money and because they are not really needed during the week. They are pretty weather robust, certainly in the summer months. The passage is overnight so departure is around 17.30 and you wake up in Lerwick around 07.00 the next day. As said previously, I structure the week around the ferry timetable.
You can leave your car at the NCP car park that is a few hundred meters from the ferry terminal in town next to the Ibis hotel. It is a multistory car park and on the return you get your ticket validated at the ferry terminal. With this ferry discount the cost is around £50 for a week.
The ferry berths about 3/4 mile away from where the Halton berths. The usual routine is to load the dive gear into a taxi and then to walk along the harbour front. I am happy to arrange a taxi, there are plenty waiting when the ferry docks if you want to take a chance or you can pre book the numbers below.
Ask for a minibus style vehicle if you have a load of gear.
Loganair operate a regular schedule to Sumburgh Airport at the south end of the island. They operate from all the main Scottish airports and some English airports such as Birmingham. Note, you need to book well in advance as the seats go quickly and baggage allowances are not that generous.
Please note that this service was previously operated by Flybe. However, they lost the franchise and the service reverted to Loganair.
Finding the boat in Lerwick.
The boat is normally tied up in Alexandra dock. The best thing to do is plug “Halton” into Marine Traffic.
Phone signal: Shetland is pretty well served by the mobile phone network though data can be limited (don’t expect 4G out of Lerwick)
Shops: There is a Tesco in Lerwick and a range of other shops. Further north, these diminish so buy snacks at the start of the week!
Pubs: there are plenty in Lerwick but just one on Unst.
Decompression incident: you will be evacuated to Aberdeen.