25 May 1997
Liverpool to Menai Bridge and return.
Commander: Captain Michel.
Weather: light airs/slight breeze - sea calm - good visibility
The BALMORAL was scheduled to depart from the Mersey Ferries landing stage rather than the IOMSPCO stage. When I arrived at the Pier Head she was alongside the number two berth at Seacombe Stage on the opposite side of the river taking bunkers.
She crossed over to the Liverpool side and began loading passengers at around 09.30 for her 10.00 departure. I would estimate that around 300 passengers boarded. Much less than least year's large crowds who had to endure an exceedingly lively outward ride in sardine conditions. Lack of advertising and a less than complimentary letter in the local newspaper about last year's trip a few days earlier may have helped to keep numbers down.
Departure was at 10.05. Near the Crosby light float the patrol vessel HMS ALDERNEY was passed inbound for Canada Dock. Not far behind and travelling at high speed was the LADY OF MANN, inbound from Douglas and preparing to overtake the ALDERNEY.
The journey to Llandudno was uneventful but very pleasant in the warm sunshine. Llandudno was reached at around 13.25. I would estimate that two thirds of the passengers went ashore at Llandudno. A further hundred or so joined for the cruise to Menai Bridge. Departure was at 14.02 the ship passing the landward side of Puffin Island on the outward journey. Unlike previous cruises the BALMORAL did not proceed beneath the Menai Bridges but turned just off the Menai Bridge landing stage at around 15.24. She headed back to Llandudno passing the seaward side of Puffin Island arriving at Llandudno Pier at 16.50.
It was interesting to note that the Llandudno Pier landing stage has undergone some repairs since last year. The stairs to the low tide landing, which have been out of commission for some years have now been repaired. New railings and a boarding gate have also been fitted. One must speculate if options are being kept open for more regular steamer calls. The LADY OF MANN had called at the Pier on a Liverpool-Llandudno-Douglas excursion just a couple of days earlier.
Departure from Llandudno was at 17.19. Once again an uneventful trip followed back to The Bar. In the channel near the Crosby Lightfloat BALMORAL was overtaken by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - inbound from Douglas. Passed outbound were the coaster ARKLOW MANOR and the coastal container ship COASTAL BAY. Arrival back at Pier Head was at 20.20 some 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
BALMORAL was then due to sail overnight to Campbeltown, Scotland for a trip on 26 May to Antrim. She then does an excursion from Whitehaven to the Isle of Man later in the week before returning to Llandudno for an around Anglesey cruise on Thursday 29 May.