When is the best time to take the tour?
There’s always plenty to see in any month of the year but the greatest number and variety of birdlife is from early May to early August. Our scheduled season runs from beginning of April to middle of October. Outwith those months we operate tours on request and often take guests out to Noss when the gannets return from the ocean in mid-January – popular excursion with visiting guests arriving for our annual Up-Helly-Aa fire festival. These magnificent birds stay on the cliffs until the end of October.
We are also available for private wildlife photography tours/bespoke tours outwith our advertised daily schedules, just contact us to discuss your requirements and we will happily accommodate you.
When we are not running our daily scheduled tours which runs from April thru to October, we are available for bespoke tours/private charters/surveys etc, just contact us to discuss your requirements and we will be happy to assist.
Should I book ahead/How to book?
Yes, to avoid disappointment, we do recommend advance booking but not to leave it until your last days in Shetland as you can lose this 4-Star highlight experience due to weather cancellations, but when cancellations do occur we do our very best to re-book you onto another slot.
Please note: that our tours will only run to schedule if we have a minimum of 6 booked onto the tour.
You can book by clicking on Book Now which will take you to our easy-to-use booking system here on our website. You will be able to check availability and once decided which date you would like to join our Noss Wildlife Boat Tours – you can pay using debit/credit card or PayPal. Alternatively…if you would prefer not to book online, you can use our online contact form with your requirements or email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, just give Marie a call +44 (0)7595 540 224 or +44 (0)7818 455 576. Whichever contact method you choose, we will take care of your booking for you, not a problem. Our local Lerwick Tourist Office (Visit Scotland icentre) also takes bookings on our behalf, they have access to our online booking system and can easily book you on, their contact number is +44 (0)1595 693434 or you can go along in person – you will find them at the Market Cross in Lerwick ZE1 0LU.
How will I know which boat/Where is the departure point?
You can’t miss us, we are the dark blue and white large Catamaran, with large print Seabirds-and-Seals plus wildlife images along the side and ‘Noss Boat’ clearly written on the top wheelhouse cabin. We berth our boat at a different location from our pick-up point, so don’t panic if we are not immediately there at the advertised boarding times, there can sometimes be delays during peak season reaching our pick-up point. The pick-up location is Victoria Pier Lerwick – ZE1 0EL and as long as spaces are available, we will pick up from the Victoria Pier Slipway, this is the small slipway to the side of the taxi rank and directly across the road from the Tourist Information Centre/public toilets.
When should I be at the departure point?
We ask passengers booked on our tours, to be at Victoria Pier Slipway in the centre of Lerwick (ZE1 0EL) at the scheduled boarding times published on our online timetable/printed materials. We need our passengers to arrive at the advertised boarding times to allow us to give everyone a very warm welcome, followed by our all important safety briefing, then we depart promptly after this. You will see our Noss Boat Tour sign on Victoria Pier, this is the main meeting point for our tours and ask you to wait there and once we are berthed, you can start making your way to us and we will happily welcome you aboard The Noss Boat ‘Seabird’. If you require assistance getting onto the boat, not a problem just let us know when booking or on the day. If you happen to be running a couple of minutes late of the scheduled boarding times, don’t worry as we won’t sail without you, just notify Marie by calling her on +44 (0)7595540224 and we will wait for you. If you are running 10 minutes later than the advertised boarding times, we will attempt to call you if not heard anything and we do reserve the right to depart without you as we have to stick to our departure times to allow other operators to pick up their passengers and we have other scheduled tours that we need to be back in time for.
Weather not looking good – will we still sail?
When booking it is important that your provide us with your contact details whilst in Shetland as we do sometimes have to cancel our tours due to adverse weather/sea conditions. If we do have to cancel due to weather on the day you have booked with us, we will contact you in advance to advise you and can on occasions be at short notice as the Shetland forecasts can be so changeable. If we have to cancel, we will do our upmost to get you booked onto an alternative date/tour. If you cannot join us another time, you will of course be given a full refund and hope to see you when you next visit Shetland. We do of course want you to have the best experience with us, so safety is our main priority and we take this very seriously. Please ensure to give us the contact details that will be accessible to you whilst you are in Shetland and ensure they are fully working, so that we can make contact and advise of any changes to scheduled tours. We are aware the mobile phone signals are poor in areas of Shetland, not a bad thing when you are on a relaxing holiday, but it is important for us if we need to get hold of you. If we can’t get through on the phone or if it goes through to voicemail, we will leave a message and we always like to send a text, plus email if we have one for you – just to ensure all contact methods covered.
Will we be back on time?
We never know exactly what we’ll find on our excursions, so we do sometimes return a few minutes late. If you have to be back exactly on time, to catch a ferry, a plane or a bus or for any other reason, please let us know at the start of the trip and we’ll make sure to dock on schedule. If you are joining our Supreme 3-hour minimum tour at 12:15pm and you’re catching the Northlink ferry south departing at 5:30pm, then not a problem as we will have you back in plenty of time to catch the ferry.
Will it be cold and wet out there?
It’s always colder at sea than on land, so we do recommend you dress warmly – maybe in one of those beautiful Shetland sweaters you can buy just a few steps from our departure point in Lerwick! It’s often showery in Shetland so if you want to stay on deck all the time, it’s best to bring some lightweight waterproofs as well and suitable footwear as the slipway where we pick up from, can sometimes be slippy. We have a partial canopy covering above the outside seating area on deck and we also have the bonus of an indoor heated cabin if you get really cold or just wish to come in and chat to Skipper Brian. Inside the cabin we have further seating to accommodate all 12 passengers, we also have a table you can sit around and browse our small, but expertly curated library. Whatever the weather out there – you are always guaranteed shelter and a fun experience on-board The Noss Boat Seabird.
Which are the best seats?
All of them! There are no seat allocations on M.V. Seabird and you’re welcome to sit where you like and move around, depending on what you’re looking at. We have seating for up to 12 passengers both outside & inside our heated saloon. There is a dry storage area in the front port corner of the wheelhouse where you can secure any baggage or personal belongings safely and securely.
How will I know what I’m looking at?
We have laminated seabird/ceteacean identification charts for all 12 passengers – detailing what you may see on our tours, also available in ‘Braille’ format. Inside our heated cabin, we have a small library of wildlife identification books and a selection of free information leaflets about Shetland’s wildlife, wild-flowers, geology, history and archaeology. All tours have engaging commentary which is made fun for all ages and interests. Each passenger receives individual headsets/earphones when they step aboard, this gives that personal touch and to enable you to hear everything that is being shared by your expert guide(s).
Do I need binoculars?
Yes, although you’ll see plenty without them. We have binoculars on board for you to borrow if you don’t have your own with you.
Is it worth bringing a camera?
It certainly is. Even an ordinary camera will give you spectacular results on our Noss trip because we go so close to the cliffs.
Will there be puffins?
Yes, but only if you come with us between the last week in April and the first week of August. The puffins usually go back to sea by 10th August – and stay out there for eight months! But their cousins, the black guillemots (“tysties”) are here all year round.
Will there be whales and otters?
Who knows what we may see out there as there have been occasions where we have spotted otters, orcas, dolphins etc. We’ve had some wonderful sightings of otters and we visit their haunts on every trip but they’re shy creatures and well camouflaged on the tideline – so you need a sharp eye and a good set of binoculars. They probably do see us every day, though! Shetland is the best place in Britain to see whales and over the years we’ve enjoyed some spectacular encounters with orcas, porpoises, dolphins and minke whales, but to suggest that we can guarantee whale sightings would be a false prospectus, so we don’t. Your enthusiastic skipper and guide, both have sharp eyes and always on the lookout – keep your eyes peeled too and fingers crossed.
Is there anything to eat or drink?
OH Yes and on every tour which is always a great highlight. We stop off in a tranquil little bay after being at the cliffs of Noss. We serve complimentary juice, tea, fresh filter coffee or hot chocolate with some very fine biscuits during all our trips and all FAIRTRADE produced. If you’d like to bring your own picnic with you, that’s no problem. If you have dietary requirements e.g. gluten free, vegan etc – then please let us know when booking your tour and we will happily accommodate your requests or you can bring your own snack. When serving hot drinks, we look after our environment so therefore do not use plastic cups, your drinks will be served in insulated stainless steel cups. None of our refreshments are individually wrapped, all kept in recyclable airtight containers.
Whilst in the little bay where we stop for this highlight- we also share our knowledge about the local area surrounding us and still plenty of wildlife opportunities whilst anchored in this peaceful location.
Do you provide Water Bottles?
Being Green Tourism Accredited, we do not provide plastic water bottles on our tours. We believe in using eco-friendly wherever possible as we like to look after our environment. We encourage you to bring your own reusable water bottles and for our 2023 season, we have reusable water bottles available for sale onboard with our Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours logo.
Is there a toilet?
You will be delighted to hear “YES” – private & easily accessible on deck – a must when out at sea. Our toilet is fully equipped with toilet paper, bio-degradable disposable bags, hand sanitizer, paper towels & bin.
Is the boat accessible for Wheelchairs?
Yes, we have a fixed ramp onboard the boat which we pull out onto the pier if berthing side on. If we berth with the stern to the pontoon, there is a fixed ramp on the back platform which can be accessed easily and we are there to assist also. To access the toilet/cabin, wheelchair users must be able to get out of their wheelchair as the doors to each are not wide enough to take the chairs – just a few short footsteps and you will be there – you can check out our published updated Accessibility Guide.
Will I be seasick?
We know this is the unspoken fear in the back of many passengers minds. If anyone should feel seasick please let us know as there are remedies that we can offer and you always have one crew member giving their full attention throughout the tour. Our catamaran is a very stable boat and in the year’s we’ve been operating, we’ve hardly seen anyone be sick.