The escalating concerns about NorthLink passenger capacity reached new heights last night after shocking photos showed scores of passengers forced to sleep on the floor in corridors.
The photos, taken by Calum Fraser and shared on Facebook, show folk in sleeping bags in public areas, including besides bins and outside the onboard shop and games area.
“Seeing small children and elderly passengers having to basically sleep rough on the floor and compete for any little bit of seating space they could shouldn’t be allowed,” he said.
Mr Fraser said staff on the boat, which was travelling south to Aberdeen, were trying their best but clearly struggling with demand.
He said the “appalling” situation had been worsened due to plane cancellations which left no other option for getting off the island.
“Ferry and plane services are at breaking point de to the aftermath of Covid and staff shortages,” he said.
With 594 folk reported to be booked on the crossing, accommodation options were limited.
Mr Fraser managed to get a reclining seat – but said the situation on board was “grim” for many.
It comes amid urgent calls for Transport Scotland to find more capacity for freight and passenger crossings.
Just this week, former ZetTrans chairman Ryan Thomson, became the latest figure to call for daytime sailings to ease the “crippling capacity issues”.
Responding to the concerns, Captain John Strathearn, Serco’s operations director at NorthLink Ferries, said: “After flight services between Lerwick and Aberdeen last night were unexpectedly cancelled, we saw a last-minute surge in foot passenger bookings on this route, which we were thankfully able to accommodate.
“While our ferry was busy amid the summer season, we can confirm there was a seat available on board for every passenger on the vessel, and all passengers reached their destination safely.”