The Scottish government has introduced a scheme called the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on most ferry crossings. This reduces the price of ferry transport to what it would cost to drive the same distance by road, in the hope of attracting more tourists and reducing business costs on the islands. Fares on many crossings have been cut by as much as 60%, and signs are that the scheme has been successful, with visitor numbers well up.
Caledonian MacBrayne Serves the west coast and islands. A comprehensive timetable booklet is available from tourist offices and online. There's a summer timetable and one for winter, when services are reduced. CalMac offers 28 Island Hopscotch tickets, giving reduced fares for various combinations of crossings; these are listed online and in the timetable booklet. Bicycles travel free with foot-passenger tickets.
Northlink Ferries Ferries from Aberdeen and Scrabster (near Thurso) to Orkney, from Orkney to Shetland and from Aberdeen to Shetland.