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Our journey since 1918


The ‘Shiel’ family (Billy Shiel’s father) started taking boat trips to the Farne Islands in 1918 – just after the First World War when, following a morning of fishing, they would take passengers out in the afternoon to show them the wildlife. This was where young Billy’s lifelong passion of the Farne Islands began and his wish to share the islands and their rich wildlife with fellow enthusiasts from all around the globe and even our very own Royal family.
In 1958, he welcomed the Queen aboard from the Royal yacht Britannia, and four years later, hosted the late Queen Mother while she was on a visit to Alnwick to stay with the Percy family.

Another highlight for Billy was being awarded an MBE from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1997 for services to tourism. Meanwhile, Billy’s son William, a chip off the old block, was spending every spare moment on board the boats and soon began to take over the business with the same passion and enthusiasm. William grew the fleet from 4 boats to 11, making changes and updating along the way and is continually adapting and updating the business while retaining the same core values and love of the islands as his father.

In the last few years William said a sad farewell to some much loved old favourites. Glad Tidings 2 took the high road to bonny Scotland, Glad Tidings (1) is now having new adventures In Guernsey with Guernsey Coastal Cruises. Glad Tidings 3 has become part of the Puffin Cruises Amble fleet and St Cuthbert 2 is now operating trips around the Royal Albert dock. Meanwhile, in 2023 there’s have been two new additions to the Billy Shiel’s fleet, twin girls; Farne’s Lass and Farne’s Maiden, beautiful new vessels which include open top decks and covered saloon areas.

Following the family tradition and already playing a big role, William’s son, Oliver is eager to finish his studies and continue the business so watch this space…

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