Sun setting over the Isle of Man from the ferry
Sun setting over the Isle of Man from the ferry

‘Sponsoring’ Loved Ones for a Break in the Isle of Man

It has now been more than 12 months since the Isle of Man’s borders were closed to non-residents to help contain the spread of COVID-19. For many of us with family and friends across the pond, this has meant missing out on many precious moments, memories and special occasions with our loved ones in order to protect our fair Isle.

While we can all appreciate and understand why we have had to restrict travel to the Isle of Man, there is no doubt we are all yearning for the time that we can welcome back friends and family to Manx soil to create more special memories.  

With the Island’s vaccination programme now in full swing, the Isle of Man Government recently announced (20th April 2021) that it feels confident we will soon be able to re-open our borders to visitors. After a year of being protected by border restrictions, where the Island was fortunate to spend long periods of time relatively free from COVID-19, we look forward to welcoming visitors back to our shores.

The Isle of Man Government is planning a three-stage transition to open borders, with details still to be finalised and dates subject to change. The next step of the transitional journey is proposed to commence on 1st May, which will allow close family members and property owners to visit. By the end of May it is hoped we can progress to Border Level 2, where travel will be opened up to all non-residents but isolation requirements are still likely to apply. By 28th June, the Government hopes that unrestricted travel can commence and we will be in a position to welcome all visitors once again. Read more about the revised Isle of Man Exit Framework here.

From 1st May, residents will be able to ‘sponsor’ family members provided they complete 21 days isolation or opt for the seven day isolation pathway with additional testing. While the isolation requirements may make it challenging for some, spending long overdue, quality time with dearly missed loved ones is likely to be worth it for an extended break on the Isle of Man.

We are excited at the prospect of reuniting families via our ferry services and will, of course, be continuing to operate daily sailings from Heysham throughout the year. Fast craft sailings to and from Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin will also continue to be monitored and reintroduced when restrictions allow.

For those with loved ones who are considering making the trip when the border restrictions are eased, here are some helpful tips and handy benefits of choosing to travel by ferry.


Understandably, COVID-19 safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, particularly when it comes to travel. Recent research by Discover Ferriesrevealed that compared to the likes of planes, trains and coaches, Brits consider ferry travel the safest mode of public transport in the current climate.  

With plenty of spacious lounges and spaced-out seating areas, your family members can keep to themselves and enjoy their own space as they travel, with the freedom to head to the outdoor deck and enjoy some fresh air. There is the option of a private cabin when travelling on Ben-my-Chree too, but please note it is advisable to book in advance as they are a popular option.

With increased sanitisation and additional safety measures in place, your loved ones can feel totally relaxed while traveling with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. To find out more about the measures in place, check out our blog.


Family and friends can bring their car, van or motorbike if travelling by ferry and enjoy the convenience of getting around the Island at their leisure. It also allows them to keep contact with other people to a minimum as they travel, with no need to walk through ports or use additional public transport, providing that extra peace of mind.

They can bring all the home comforts they might need for their extended break on the Isle of Man too, with no need to worry about additional luggage fees. Simply pack everything in the car, whether that includes office essentials and work equipment required for remote working, bulky baby equipment, children’s toys or leisure gear such as bikes and golf clubs.


It is understandable that people might consider being away from their pets for a long period of time a barrier when considering a trip to the Isle of Man. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be as they are welcome too! Pets are able to travel with the Steam Packet Company either staying in the car or, dependent on the route, in the Pet Friendly Lounge, Pet Friendly Cabins or on-board kennels.


With no amendment fees to change your booking and the promise of a full refund if travel is affected by COVID-19 Government imposed travel restrictions, your family and friends can start planning ahead and book a break to the Island with confidence. If dates are pushed back for the easing of border restrictions, then so can the booking – hassle free and with no amendment fees – giving your loved ones greater flexibility and complete peace of mind. Find out more about our Book with Confidence Commitment here.


For those considering a trip to the Island during the transition period, here are some helpful services that might be useful.

For the latest fares and to book travel, head to

Please note that the information outlined in this blog is correct at the time of publishing (April 2021) and is subject to change. For the most up-to-date information on the Isle of Man Exit Framework, please review the latest Government advice.

Research for Discover Ferrieswas carried out online by Censuswide on 3rd to 6th September 2020.

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