The cruiseliner season started a week ago, and it's hitting a spot of bother. A gentleman on board a liner off Edinburgh became unwell with stomach trouble, and needed to go to hospital. Unfortunately, the normal procedure could not be carried out. By normal procedure I mean: transfer him into a small boat and take him ashore. Why? He weighed 203 kg (447 lb), so a Sea King helicopter was drafted in, as that machine can lift 21,000 lb.
Here in Stornoway, we found ourselves playing host to 270 cruise passengers off the German liner Astor. Noticed that ship hovering just outside port early on Monday, ferrying its passengers ashore in tenders for tours of the island. When said tours were over, the passengers were unable to return to the Astor. The tenders could not safely take them on board as a result of strong tides, high winds and bad weather.
Local hotels sprang into the breach and provided lunch for the wet, miserable and hungry cruiseparty. As the weather nosedived into a full gale with driving rain through the afternoon, dinner was laid on and an appeal broadcast on local radio for anyone with a bed going spare. The town responded and all passengers could sleep in a proper bed.
Early this morning, the weather had calmed down sufficiently for tenders to take the German tourists back to their ship, and just before 10, Astor sailed direct for Rosyth, skipping its intermediate stop at Invergordon. One Austrian couple expressed their gratitude to the people of the town and were deeply impressed with the show of Hebridean hospitality.