An urgent fundraising campaign has been launched in the hope a historic pleasure cruiser can be kept afloat next year.
The charity which owns the Balmoral, a regular visitor to the Isle of Man, says the vessel now needs between £350,000 and £500,000 spending on it to remedy problems and keep it sailing next season.
Owners, the MV Balmoral Fund Ltd, said despite carrying more than 50 per cent more passengers than in the previous year, income had been hit both by the weather and mechanical problems, causing the cancellation of a quarter of planned sailings.
Money raised will cover repairs and winter maintenance as well as dry docking, all of which are urgently needed to ensure she can operate next season.
Fund trustee Paul Doubler said: ‘We are appealing to everyone who would be sad to see our great maritime nation lose its last iconic coastal passenger ship to answer our emergency appeal.’
He said the vessel, which this year won the accolade National Historic Fleet Flagship for 2016, operated successful trips to the Isle of Man, North Wales and the Bristol Channel. But high winds and mechanical problems had caused cancellations, leaving funds depleted and her future in doubt.
‘In all Balmoral has visited more than 50 calling points around the entire UK. When Balmoral sails in and drops up to 600 happy passengers ashore with wallets and purses bulging it certainly gives a significant boost to the local economy,’ he said.
‘The irony is that when we have sailed and when the weather has been kind, we have proved that we can be financially viable and we are realistically convinced she does have a viable future.’
To help, visit www.mvbalmoral.org.uk or send cheques to the treasurer, MV Balmoral Fund Ltd, 23 Adder Hill, Great Boughton, Chester, CH3 5RA. All donations gratefully received.