THE world’s last seagoing paddle steamer the Waverley will return to the West Somerset coast this summer as it marks the 45th anniversary of its first sailing in the Bristol Channel.
Minehead saw the resumption of visits by the Waverley last year for the first time in five years when thousands of people flocked to the town’s harbour to see it.
Now, Waverley Excursions confirmed on Thursday (February 8) the Waverley will spend three weeks in the Bristol Channel in June.
It will operate from South Wales, Somerset, and North Devon between Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 23.
Details of its sailing programme will be given in a Cardiff presentation for the media on February 17 and the final details released when bookings start in early March.
Waverley’s Master, Captain Dominic McCall, said: “Following the outstanding support we received on returning Waverley to the channel in 2023, we have now planned a more extensive programme of sailings for this year which will give even more opportunity for locals and visitors alike to enjoy a nostalgic trip aboard a historic steam ship.
“I look forward to setting sail from several Welsh ports and piers, including Penarth, Porthcawl, Swansea, Tenby, and Milford Haven, to give everybody who steps aboard a great day out.
“It was heartwarming to see the enjoyment of passengers as we cruised the channel to visit locations such as Minehead, Ilfracombe, and Lundy Island last season and I look forward to returning this summer.”
Waverley Excursions general manager Paul Semple said: “I am delighted to confirm that the Bristol Channel will once again hear the beat of paddles when Waverley returns in June.
“We are currently planning the most exciting programme of sailings for several decades as we look to expand Waverley’s areas of operation across the UK.
“I look forward to sharing our plans for the upcoming season in Cardiff, where I will also be able to share the inside story of what it takes to operate such a unique and famous ship.”
Waverley is currently docked in Glasgow with maintenance and refit work ongoing before the ship moves to dry dock in April.
This winter will see £700,000 spent directly on the ship with some internal refurbishment works taking place to keep the iconic vessel in operation.
The Waverley was built in 1946 and has carried more than six million passengers on cruises in many different coastal waters of Britain.