The cruise ship MS Gann arrived in Stornoway harbour last night (Wednesday July 11th) with an unusual payload both of passengers and crew.

MS Gann is a Norwegian ‘Skoleskipet’, a training vessel owned by a sail training school in Stavanger, which provides real-life training for deck crew, cruise caterers and officers.

During the summer it offers training cruises both to raise funds for the school and to give experience to student crew-members.

Up to 200 passengers on board are on a ‘dry’ (alcohol-free) cruise and include as one of the tour leaders the former Bishop of Stavanger, Kurt Hjemdal.

During a full day of tours today (Thursday July 12th) they have asked to have opportunities to meet as many island communities as possible, and will be escorted by members of the Western Isles Tour Guides association on outings which include a walking tour of Bernera and a visit to Shawbost historical society, as well as highlights of the West Side and Ness.

Last night (Wednesday) passengers requested a worship service and attended one at St Columba 's Church, Stornoway. Over 220 passengers and crew attended and stayed on for refreshments afterwards. They were overwhelmed with the kindness, welcome and hospitality shown to them by islanders.

Photo: Rev W. Heenan, St Columba's

This week’s tour began in Stavanger and takes in Orkney, Thurso, Stornoway and Kyle of Lochalsh, from where the group will cross the Skye Bridge. 

Her previous visits to Stornoway have included, in 2015, a shipload of 81 keen Norwegian motorcyclists, who spent a day touring the islands.

(This report has been updated with text and additional photograph since being first posted)