THE popular coastal ship MV Balmoral will return to Newport’s waters this summer despite concerns over its future.

The vessel, which has hosted Royal passengers during its 68-year history, will make brief forays along the River Usk on Monday, July 31 and Wednesday, August 23.

Both voyages will set off from Penarth Pier and will see hundreds of passengers take the iconic trip under the Transporter Bridge.

But the ship will be unable to collect any passengers from Newport as there is no suitable berth to tie up to on the river.

Despite being the National Historic Ships Flagship of the Year for 2016, the Balmoral had a “challenging year” according to the preservation charity which owns it.

Last October, MV Balmoral Fund Ltd had launched an appeal to raise sufficient funds for the ship to sail again this summer.

Technical difficulties and bad weather resulted in more than a quarter of sailings being lost, including the “vitally important” August Bank Holiday Weekend.

The appeal proved to be a success, and now the Balmoral will embark on a 113-day summer season starting on Saturday, May 27.

A spokesman for MV Balmoral Fund Ltd said: “Thanks to the generous support shown by many to the recent public appeal, the classic coastal steamer MV Balmoral will be back in service for the 2017. This welcome news has delighted all involved with owning and operating the historic vessel.”

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