The M.V Hjaltland and the M.V Hrossey are both to see an increase in 66 new sleeping pods as part of a £2million Scottish Government funded refit.
The upgrades will also include new cinemas, shops, games areas, and entertainment zones.
Additional fin stabilisers will be purchased for both vessels, to reduce the risk of disruption and providing improved resilience to services.
There will also be 9 new port tractors to improve shore side operations and reduce maintenance costs.
Stuart Garrett, Managing Director of Serco NorthLink Ferries, said:
“We welcome this investment from the Scottish Government which will add to the existing quality lifeline service that links the Scottish mainland to the Northern Isles.
“The investment will build on the series of on board improvements that Serco has introduced since we began operating the service in 2012, which have led to 98% of customers surveyed rating their overall experience as positive.”
There will be no new cabins.
Currently the sleeping pods are used by some travellers but many people find a place to rest up in the seated areas of the vessels.
On the Aberdeen to Orkney route today’s sleeping pod prices are an additional £18.00 to the fare and £3.50 for a reclining seat. The ferry prices have still not been the recipient of RET reductions as that issue has not been resolved. Passengers to Shetland have benefitted from the fare reduction scheme. Northlink Fares
On the West coast of Scotland where RET has been in operation there has been a considerable rise in visitors using ferries resulting in vessels being fully booked and islanders finding it difficult at times to get a reservation space.
Islanders have a 30% reduction in their fares. For islanders with a National Entitlement card there are 4 ferry vouchers which can be used for 2 free return journeys to the mainland each year. This is part of the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel scheme.
Paul Wheelhouse,Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands in the Scottish Government said:
“The Scottish Government fully recognises the importance of these ferry links to the residents and businesses of the Northern Isles and wants to ensure they continue to support the economies of Orkney and Shetland, as well as Scotland as a whole.
“We have spoken with key stakeholders to identify measures that will help achieve that aim. These improvements will upgrade the passenger experience and freight operations, while also bringing added resilience to the services.
“This investment underlines our commitment to providing the best possible ferry services on the Northern Isles network and our continued support for the island communities that rely on them.”