We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Bass Rock trips too unreliable.”

Scottish Seabird Centre
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Enjoy great days out at the seaside with the five star Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick. In the Discovery Centre control the interactive live cameras to zoom in on the amazing local wildlife on the Firth of Forth islands including puffins, gannets and seals. The Bass Rock is the world’s largest Northern gannet colony and BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Nature Reserve of the Year and the Isle of May is the biggest puffin colony on the east coast of Britain. There’s different wildlife to see throughout the year and at different stages of the breeding season. Visitors can enjoy expert talks, 3D TV, fish tanks, Flyway Tunnel, Wildlife Theatre, Turtle and Ray Zone and a Scope Deck. There is also a Gift Shop, the Seabird Cafe which has East Lothian’s only seaside sundeck, plus a range of seasonal boat trips. The Scottish Seabird Centre is open all year – only closed on Christmas Day.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Stairs / elevator, Food available for purchase, Activities for young children
Reviewed September 4, 2013

The Scottish seabird centre organise boat trips to land on the Bass Rock. I was lucky enough to go on one of these trips in July 2009 so this year I tried to repeat the experience. I tried to land both in June and then in August of this year. Unfortunately my experience was very like that of Govag Yessir. Both trips were cancelled at the last minute when I had incurred considerable expense in paying for a train from London first to North Berwick (June) and then to Dunbar (August). In addition I had to pay twice for accommodation. None of these expenses were refundable. On neither occasion did the weather forecast or conditions on the day begin to justify the cancellation of the trip. On both days I had clear blue skies and calm seas. Indeed for the trip in June not only were there fishing boats near the rock at the time I was supposed to sail, but also the Centre's trip to the Isle of May left a few hours later and went right past the Bass Rock. The conditions were no better then than when the trip to the Bass Rock was supposed to leave. It is a pity the Scottish Seabird Centre does not do more to make the trips reliable as on the one occasion when I was able to land (in 2009) I had a great time.

Like Govag Yessir my experience of last minute cancellation is very far from being unusual. Indeed the reputation of the centre is that cancellation is very frequent. I have heard this both from the various Bed and brekasfasts I have stayed at and from friends who have tried to do the same trip.This is a great shame as the attraction is well worth visiting and the staff working at the centre are very pleasant.

Thank Richard M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Puffin2000, Manager at Scottish Seabird Centre, responded to this reviewResponded September 6, 2013

Thank you for your feedback. We are very sorry to learn of the expenses you’ve incurred in trying to land on the Bass Rock on one of our landing trips his year, and the disappointment you’ve experienced at the cancellation of the trips. Unfortunately the weather conditions can be unpredictable, and while we make every effort to ensure our sailings go ahead as scheduled, the main issue for us is the safety of our passengers and our crews. Our skippers keep a close eye on the weather forecast in the days leading up to scheduled landing trips, and it’s our policy to make a decision on whether the weather conditions will allow the planned sailing to proceed around 24 hours before the sailing time to inform people who may be travelling from outwith the area to cancel or alter their travel/accommodation arrangements. We will always have the issue of a balance between not wishing to disappoint visitors who have booked with us by cancelling the trip in enough time for them to change their arrangements, but our intention will always to be to proceed with the sailing unless we have safely concerns. The safety aspect will always be paramount, and we are certain that the hundreds of passengers who enjoy boat trips with us every year would expect that level of care from us.

You’ve mentioned that when you visited the area, you could see no reason why the sailing couldn’t have gone ahead, but as mentioned above, the weather conditions can quickly change, and in the professional opinion of our highly trained skippers who have years of experience in operating these trips, there was sufficient cause for concern the day before to justify cancelling the trip. In addition, the Bass Rock can be particularly difficult to land on – it’s very weather dependant: more so than the Isle of May. Given the geology of the Bass Rock and the fact that it is home to more than 150,000 gannets during the breeding season, we would also look at this in tandem with weather related issues to decide whether conditions underfoot might be hazardous to passengers landing on the island.

We totally understand your disappointment, but as mentioned earlier, we make every effort possible to go ahead with the boat trips. However we do cancel where there are genuine concerns over health and safety.

We do hope that you will visit again, and hope that the weather conditions will be positive for you on the next occasion, to enable you to repeat the special experience of landing on the Bass Rock.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review
Reviews (718)
There are newer reviews for Scottish Seabird Centre
See the most recent reviews
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

517 - 521 of 718 reviews

Reviewed August 30, 2013

Not many birds around when we visited apart from gannets, but the cameras were great and the staff (volunteers?) very helpful and knowledgeable. Good cafe as well

Thank MrAusDog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Puffin2000, Manager at Scottish Seabird Centre, responded to this reviewResponded September 6, 2013

Many thanks for your positive review. The puffins, which are a big hit with our visitors, tend to leave after their breeding season in late July or early August, but there are other species in the area for longer, including, as you say, the gannets, which are normally here until October. There are thousands of fluffy white gannet chicks out on the Bass Rock at the moment. Then later this month the grey seals will start to gather in the area for the start of their breeding season, and some visitors have been lucky enough to actually see seal clubs born live on camera. We have to agree with your comment about the café. The selection of cakes is worth visiting for alone!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 30, 2013

I was fortunate to get a place on this trip haven't kept an eye on all the trips during the year and trying to find a time that fitted in with when I could travel down to North Berwick and when the others weren't fully booked. After having left the night before and booked some overnight accommodation I was disappointed to hear the night before that the trip was cancelled due to a bad weather forecast for the next morning. That's life I guess.
Anyway, having got up the next morning to blue skies I decided to venture over to North Berwick to be greeted by a lovely warm day. Having made the effort to come down I went on the boat trip which didn't land, even though I had done this several times before, on a pretty full Sula II, and had a thoroughly enjoyable, and calm, trip around the Rock instead. We even passed some folk in a rowing boat.

I appreciate the weather is unpredictable but I would like to make the following points.

1. Why cancel the night before? If there is a small chance even that the weather would be OK then at least make the decision in the morning?
2. I'm sure most folk like myself would have travelled a fair distance for this trip and probably stayed overnight so they are likely to be there anyway. The guest house that I stayed in mentioned that the same thing had happened to another one of their visitors a couple of weeks earlier in similar circumstances.
3. When we passed the landing area on the Rock it was actually in the leeward side of the Rock from the predicted westerly wind.
4. From what I could see in the morning anyway the other Seabird Centre cruises ran including the rib-boats (and were still advertised the night before outside the centre).

For the price of the trip then I would have thought that the operators would have given the trip the best possible chance of running. I'm sure for most folk it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close to the gannets when the Rock is in full cry with plenty of young chicks present.

Thank GovagYessir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Puffin2000, General Manager at Scottish Seabird Centre, responded to this reviewResponded September 5, 2013

Thank you for taking the trouble to provide feedback on your recent booking for the Bass Rock landing trip you booked with us. We appreciate the chance to respond to these comments.
I am sorry that your trip was cancelled. The Bass Rock is a very exposed island with only two landings – both very challenging and extremely dependent on weather and sea conditions. Landing on this unique, exposed rock is incomparable with our trips around the Rock, which are able run almost daily, or to the much more sheltered landing on the Isle of May. Safety must always come first and the decision to either run or cancel the trip is made entirely by the skipper.
We have taken advice from passengers over the years as to when best to decide to cancel or run the trip. The feedback has been that 24 hours before sailing is the preferred time of the majority rather than immediately before sailing (usually at 7am).

We ensure that we check weather and sea forecasts on an continual basis right up until the late afternoon of the day before a landing trip is due to take place, so that we can make a decision on whether the trip will sail or not, and inform booked passengers in sufficient time to cancel or alter arrangements made if they are travelling from outwith the area. It’s likely that visitors would, if anything, be even more upset to have actually travelled and stayed overnight, only to find the following morning that the trip would not be departing.

Here at the Centre, safety is the most important factor when making a decision as to whether our boat trips sail or not, and we are sure the hundreds of passengers who travel with us on our series of trips every year would expect nothing less from us. The ultimate decision on whether any trip will sail rests entirely with our skippers. They must decide whether in their professional opinion, the weather and sea conditions will allow the trip to go ahead, or whether it should be cancelled in the interests of the safely of our passengers and crew.

The weather forecast for the day your landing trip was due to sail was reviewed the day before and showed wind speeds of up to 36 miles per hour up until late morning and then again from around 2pm onwards. There was a drop in the winds from around 11am to 1pm, and as you correctly say, indeed our own RIB sailing went out on an hour-long sailing around Craigleith and the Bass Rock. A Bass Rock landing trip of 4 to 5 hours duration however is a very different proposition. We knew there would be a sufficient drop in the winds to allow a 1 hour non-landing trip to take place. However, to have gone ahead with the landing trip, our skippers would have had to be confident of a 4 to 5 hour period where weather conditions would allow us to allow us ensure that passengers could be landed safely on the Bass Rock, would enjoy a positive and safe experience on the Bass Rock itself, and that they could be boarded again safely at the end of their visit, and on the date in question, this simply was not possible.

Unfortunately the weather does conspire against us at times, meaning we do sometimes have to cancel our landing trips at short notice. We will always do all we can to ensure that all our boats trips sail as planned, so that our passengers are not disappointed, but we would never do this at the expense of their safety and that of our crews. We do hope that you will take a trip to the Bass Rock with us in the future, and provided the weather conditions are with us, you will repeat the experience of making a landing on the island. As you suggest in your post, it is indeed a very special place.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 30, 2013

We came here not really knowing what to expect but we weren't disappointed after paying our entry we went down a staircase into a very interactive area, the kids that were around were loving it, there are cameras pointing towards bass rock where you can see gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots and lots more species of sea birds you can control the camera to pan wherever you want to see, there are loads of fun educational things for kids (and adults)
there is a sweet cafe and shop too

i would definitely recommend this place
Adults are £8.95
Child £4.95 (3-15yrs)

Thank Trippixie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Puffin2000, Manager at Scottish Seabird Centre, responded to this reviewResponded September 6, 2013

Many thanks for this great five star review. We put a lot of effort into ensuring that the Centre offers a variety of experiences for visitors of all ages and it makes it all worthwhile when we read comments like yours - it shows we’re getting it right! We’re so pleased you enjoyed your visit so much and hope you’ll come back again soon.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 29, 2013

We booked the sail in a month advance.We drove one and half hours from Edinburgh to North Berwick only to find out that there are only 6 passengers on the sail and it is beyond their breakeven and unless another 12 will arrive within the next hour, the trip is canceled. They had our email address, but no one bothered to inform us.
The guy at the counter was unfriendly and when we told him that we found a private alternative he informed us that we must wait until the exact time of the tour (one hour later) in order to determine if we are entitled for a refund. This was ridiculous and we decided to take the private boat. When we came back he was smiling and polite and informed us that a refund was issued.
We sailed with Sula II with only third of the boats capacity full and enjoyed every minute.

1  Thank Urido
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Puffin2000, Manager at Scottish Seabird Centre, responded to this reviewResponded September 10, 2013

Thank you for your feedback regarding the Seabird Cruise you booked with us recently. I am sorry that you were unable to sail. As it states on our website, trips cannot be guaranteed and we require a minimum of passengers to cover our costs. We continue to sell tickets up to the departure time to give the boat the best chance of sailing. If the sailing does not ultimately take place, we will fully refund the passengers booked on the trip, which as you say, did happen in your case. Our team did try to make contact you on the telephone number you provided but without success. We are very pleased to hear that ultimately you enjoyed your visit to North Berwick.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Scottish Seabird Centre also viewed

North Berwick, East Lothian
North Berwick, East Lothian
 
Dirleton, North Berwick
Dirleton, North Berwick
 

Been to Scottish Seabird Centre? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing