Give someone the gift of steam this Christmas... Our 2016 sailing programme is out now!

SS Shieldhall – the oldest passenger cargo steamship still active in Europe, and based in Southampton – has designed a new-look sailing programme for 2016. There will be 2hr dock cruises of Southampton, music cruises, trips to Poole and the Bournemouth Air Show, America’s Cup Yacht Racing cruising, Hampshire Food Festival trips and specialist interest cruises with guest speakers and commentators on board. The cruise programme is set to run from early June until mid-September.

New interpretation in the form of hands-on monitors, films and graphic panels will recall Shieldhall’s working career in Glasgow and Southampton, including footage of the famed Engine and Boiler Room for those visitors who cannot access the steps leading to the bowels of the ship.

Thanks in part to an ongoing £1.4 million HLF grant project ‘Saving Shieldhall: Learning through Conservation in Action’, Shieldhall is able to offer a varied and attractive cruise programme during the summer months. With MCA and ABP approval, Shieldhall will commence her 2016 programme on 4 June with a 2 hour Southampton Docks cruise – 1000 years since King Canute was crowned King of England close by. Other cruise highlights include trips to see the Americas Cup World Series racing on Sat 23 and Sun 24 July; a Cowes Fireworks Cruise on Fri 12 August and a Merchant Navy Day Cruise (Sat 3 Sept), remembering merchant seamen who lost their lives in World War 1 and World War 2. Once again, Shieldhall will be departing Southampton Waters for a week in Poole, from where she will make three trips to visit the Bournemouth Air Festival (Fri 19, Sat 20 & Sun 21 August).

Shieldhall HLF Project Manager Graham Mackenzie is looking forward to an exciting year. ‘After our most successful sailing season ever in 2015 – and featuring as the No 1 attraction in Southampton on TripAdvisor - we’ve designed our 2016 cruise programme to offer something for everyone. We’ve retained some family friendly 2 hour cruises (morning trips where children travel for free), and will also cruise to witness the Americas Cup World Series, stage music cruises and specialist interest trips. We will be offering commentary on board, so our guests can learn about the history of the docks and the sights and sounds of Southampton Water and the Solent.’

Guests on Shieldhall get a lot more than a conventional cruise along Southampton Water. The ship is manned and run entirely by volunteers, who actively encourage visits to the Engine and Boiler Rooms and also the Bridge.  Marketing Director Nigel Philpott commented: ‘We know that the highlights of a visit to Shieldhall include the interaction with our team of volunteers, and the ‘access all areas’ mentality we have on board. Whether it is meeting the Captain on the Bridge or the Chief Engineer in the Engine Room, visitors will soon understand that our team love nothing more than to explain their role in keeping Shieldhall steaming.’

Posted by Lewis Folland, Tue 15 Dec 2015