AN iconic Scottish paddle steamer first launched in October 1946 has picked up a prestigious award.

Waverley, the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer, has been awarded the prestigious status of National Flagship of the Year by National Historic Ships UK.

The award recognises the breadth and geographic coverage of Waverley’s sailings in addition to the extended sailing programme for 224 with a record-beating 70 ports and piers included within this year’s cruising itinerary.

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Throughout the season, Waverley will proudly fly a special pennant to denote its new historic status.

The award is given out annually by National Historic Ships UK to celebrate the significance and historical value of a specific vessel.

Waverley’s sailing programme will get underway on May 17 with a weekend of sailing on the Clyde Coast before setting course for Oban and the Inner Hebrides.

Following the 2023 season, an independent economic impact assessment concluded passengers aboard the vessel contributed an impressive £11.6 million to the UK economy, with £6m in Scotland - a 107% increase compared to figures from 2015

Waverley was first built in Glasgow for the London and North Eastern Railway and launched in October 1946.

Commenting on the award, Sir Timothy Laurence, husband of Princess Anne, said: “I am delighted that Waverley has been awarded the title of National Flagship 2024.

“This reflects not only the very positive impression she has created around the UK in recent years but also the economic benefit she generates wherever she goes.

“My congratulations to the Waverley team for this well-deserved award.”