THE man who provides the informative commentaries on board the paddle steamer Waverley has put up a stout defence of the contribution the vessel makes to Bute's economy - and of their efforts to minimise the disruption caused by passengers who have enjoyed a drink on her Firth of Clyde cruises.
Rothesay businessman Phil Kirkham recently criticised the steamer's passengers for harming his Saturday trade, and asked whether the town really benefited from the paddler's regular Saturday visits at the height of the summer - visits which Mr Kirkham labelled "the Waverley's Saturday booze cruise".
But Ian Quinn, who provides commentaries and other announcements on board the paddler throughout her spring, summer and autumn cruising programme, told the island's community radio station, Bute FM, this week that the vessel's crew did everything they reasonably could to keep boisterous passengers in check.
"On an average Saturday, the Waverley brings between four hundred and six hundred people to Bute," Mr Quinn told an extended edition of the station's Have Your Say programme.
"That amounts to between four and six thousand people every season, and it is only a very small percentage of that number that are causing this problem.
"The community has to understand that the Waverley is part of the tourist industry and therefore brings a lot of people to the island who wouldn't come by other means.
"These people are a very small minority, and we do do our level best to try and keep that disruption to a minimum by broadcasting PA announcements as we come into Rothesay to tell people that we are coming into a no drinking zone.
"I cannot overstate the point that I broadcast very loudly, to the public, the pier and the town, how strict this policy is."
Mr Quinn - who was joined on air by the Waverley's master, Captain Iain Clark, and Waverley Excursions Ltd director James McMillan - also told programme hosts Angela Haggerty and Mike Blair that he did not believe the problem, such as it is, was a growing thorn in the Waverley's side - or that it was a new phenomenon.
"It's a one day a week thing," he said. "If you do have any problems like that, that's the one day of the week that it happens.
"The purser of the old Queen Mary tells me that I don't know what it's like to take two thousand people all the way back to Glasgow when the vast majority - not just a few - are drunk.
"They had to lock them in the bar until they got back to Glasgow, and considering that, I am pleased at how few of our passengers on a Saturday are drunk."
The Waverley undertook her final Clyde cruise of the summer on Sunday afternoon, calling at Rothesay on her way down firth to Lochranza and the north Kintyre coast; after her annual spell on the Solent and the Thames, she'll return to the Clyde for a final weekend of cruises in mid-October before being laid up for the winter.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Rothesay
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South west