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Displaying items by tag: Scottish Western Isles

The largest UK ferry and harbour operator is adding to its support for Gaelic speakers by offering a bi-lingual English and Gaelic customer care service.

As a pilot project over the summer the Scottish ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) created a new customer care centre in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis (see Afloat coverage of Irish Sea ferry trials). The pilot project has led to six new jobs in the capital of the island which forms part of the Outer Hebrides. CalMac has now confirmed this as a permanent fixture with staff there enhancing the Gaelic face of the company.

Previously assistance from a Gaelic speaker was only available to Gaelic-speaking customers telephoning or visiting port offices in Gaelic-speaking areas, but now anyone who would like to make an enquiry in Gaelic can be transferred to a native speaker to deal with their booking.

The Stornoway team will also be steadily transforming CalMac's social media channels into a bi-lingual offering as well.

There are around 60,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, and the majority of people living in the Western Isles are able to speak Gaelic.

'We are committed to looking at ways of spreading jobs more evenly across our area of operations and I'm delighted to confirm that the summer pilot we ran in Stornoway will now be a permanent fixture in the town,' said CalMac's Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.

'Given the prevalence of the Gaelic language in the Western Isles it was a natural step to make this the centre of our new bi-lingual customer service offering.

'This is something we have been keen to introduce for some time and this new centre now gives us the capacity to support this.'

CalMac has long history of support for the Gaelic language, including as the principal commercial supporter of the Royal National Mod.

Shona MacLennan, Chief Executive, Bord na Gaidhlig welcomed the news. 

'We always welcome new developments which contribute to the National Gaelic Language Plan's aim that more people use Gaelic more often in more situations.  CalMac's introduction of this service will support that aim, and is particularly appropriate in their customer care centre which in Stornoway.  By locating those jobs in a Gaelic speaking community this will bring important economic benefits to the Western Isles,' she said.

CalMac currently employs around 1700 people from Campbeltown (Mull of Kintyre) in the south to Stornoway in the north, 60% of them living and working in fragile coastal or island communities. Last year they carried more than 5.6 million passengers on its fleet of 33 vessels across 28 routes to island and remote mainland destinations. 

CalMac's customer service team handles more than 300,000 calls and 44,000 emails every year. 

They have achieved the highest level of accreditation from the Contact Centre Association for the quality of its customer service who described them as 'a competent, well managed, highly customer focused operation.'

They were particularly impressed by the development and use of social media to keep passengers up-to-date. Over the last year the team managed almost 30,000 social media messages and has attracted more than 100,000 online followers.

'Our social media platforms have a large and loyal following which continues to grow as passenger numbers increase. Being able to offer bi-lingual messages allows us to focus even more closely on how we speak to customers in a way that suits them best,' added Robbie.  

Published in Ferry
With sweeping lines the 54m private motor-yacht Fortunate Sun became the largest vessel to transit Dublin's Samuel Beckett swing-bridge, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The motoryacht (click PHOTO) which has luxurious accommodation for 10 guests and 12 crew had sailed from the Scottish western isles and made a lunchtime arrival on Wednesday, where the vessel initially docked at Ocean Pier, Dublin Port.

She remained alongside this berth which is normally used by large commercial ships until the vessel sought a berth much closer to the city-centre. This led to a shift of berths in the evening when the 2003 built vessel headed upriver to the Dublin City Moorings facility at Custom House Quay, but this firstly required transiting through two bridges.

With a beam of 10.6m Fortunate Sun entered through the East-Link toll-lift bridge followed by the Samuel Beckett bridge, the Liffey's newest crossing point which opened in late 2009. The €60m bridge was commissioned by Dublin City Council and designed by the Spanish architect engineer Santiago Calatrava. To read more on the bridge click HERE.

Fortunate Sun is registered in the Caymen Islands and is capable of over 17 knots on a range of 5000 nautical miles. She has a steel hull and an aluminium superstructure and interiors also by Tim Heywood Design. In the early hours of tomorrow morning the vessel built by Oceanfast is to depart through the 5,700 tonnes bridge which was delivered by barge after a five-day voyage from Rotterdam.

There has been previous transits of the bridge notably the annual Dublin Rally organised by the the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI). This year's Dublin Rally took place on 1 May when boats travelling on the Royal Canal descended via Croke Park and entered the Liffey at Spencer Dock. This required the Iarnrod Éireann bridge-lift and the water level in Spencer Dock to be lowered so to allow safe clearance under the Sheriff St. bridge.

From there the IWAI flotilla made the short passage downriver to re-enter another inland waterway system at the Grand Canal Dock, marking where the Liffey connects with the city's southern canal. The 2011 Dublin Rally was the first time since 1955 that boats could enter Dublin from the Shannon via the Royal Canal and the first time since 2004 that boats also joined from the Royal Canal.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Dublin Port Information

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructure such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

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