With Storm Barbara set to move across the British Isles, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has advised that the latest forecasts indicate a high probability of gales and severe gales which have the potential to disrupt sailings on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th December.


The Company says passengers booked on sailings on each of these days should consider transferring to an earlier service, although these are all currently very busy.


In order to offer additional passenger vehicle space on Ben-my-Chree over the busy Christmas period, the Steam Packet Company has arranged for Arrow to cover freight services on Wednesday 21st December and Thursday 22nd December.


As a result, vehicle space will be increased on Ben-my-Chree for the 1945hrs sailing on Wednesday 21st December, the 0215hrs and 1945hrs sailings on Thursday 22nd December and the 0215hrs sailing on Friday 23rd December.


Passengers booked on sailings which may be disrupted by the weather are asked to contact the Call Centre on 08722 992 992 or 01624 661661 to discuss alternatives. Lines will be open between 0830 and 1830hrs. Online account holders may amend their bookings through the Company’s website


Any passengers wishing to transfer now that a weather warning has been issued will not be charged amendment fees.


Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘After such a long run of benign weather it is frustrating that, at such an important time for our customers, our services are likely to be affected by a severe storm moving in from the Atlantic.


‘Consistent with the weather warning issued by the Met Office we have now decided to issue our own travel warning and will bring in Arrow to ensure additional capacity is available; this once again demonstrates the necessity of having a backup vessel.


‘Any changes requested by passengers will be subject to availability and will, of course, be free of charge.’