The £243m contract to provide ferry services to the northern isles has been awarded for the next six years.
The Scottish Government has pledged to improve services for passengers, with the award of the new contract to Serco Ltd.
The company will take over the reigns from Northlink Ferries Ltd in the summer, and run services until 2018.
The new contract includes a pledge to maintain the 90-minute service from Scrabster, Thurso to Stromness on Orkney and improve experiences for passengers.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "Building on the work by Northlink over the last six years, today we are taking the Northern Isles ferry services forward.
"The new contract rectifies many of the difficulties of the one we inherited in particular the recent difficulties with the extended dry dock period.
"The new arrangements ensure we will avoid the situation where vessels have been laid up for long periods of time.
"Passengers will see improvements to the journey experience with improved ticketing arrangements, premium reclining seats added on board overnight services, and improved catering, hospitality and customer care facilities.
“Crucially, clear commitments that crossing times, including the 90-minute crossing between Scrabster and Stromness, will also be retained."