A rush of bookings as CalMac opened its online booking system at 9am today (Tuesday 30 June) brought the system to its knees and crashed the website.

Today saw the re-opening of online bookings for the ‘shoulder’ timetable which is being operated between tomorrow (Wednesday 1 July) and 14 July, with significantly reduced capacity on all sailings due to Covid-19 precautions on board the ferries.

A flood of booking attempts as the system went live crashed the site, presenting online bookers with an error message when they attempted booking.

Although it was swiftly operational again, CalMac now warns customers of delays trying to place bookings.

A message on their site and through social media says: “We are experiencing an extremely high volume of calls and traffic to our website. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Our team is working through the queue and will respond to you as soon as we can.”

A further timetable is to be operated on the normal summer schedule from 15 July until 18 October, coinciding with the timings of the Scottish Government's route map, which guides the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions.

CalMac said in their latest customer information that this timetable will be published on 2 July and bookings will open on a rolling two-week window from that date. For example, at 9am on 2 July bookings will be open up to 15 July, at 9am on 3 July bookings will be open up to 16 July, and so on.

Social distancing measures aboard all vessels will mean strictly limited capacity, based on the number of passengers that can be safely carried within the guidelines in force.

For this reason CalMac also advises that foot passengers make advance reservations.