The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has confirmed the vast majority of passengers affected by the cancellation of Ben-my-Chree’s Heysham service on Tuesday night have already travelled on alternative sailings.
The Company was forced to cancel the evening sailing from Douglas and overnight return due to weather conditions at the Lancashire port. Manannan continued to operate its scheduled services to and from Liverpool, which was not as affected by the strong winds, but the fast craft’s scheduled Heysham service on Wednesday morning was re-routed to Liverpool because of continuing weather issues.
Due to the TT, all sailings on Wednesday and Thursday were extremely busy making it hard to find space for passengers affected by the cancellations. To assist, the Steam Packet Company announced an additional service for Thursday evening, the first available space in the schedule, and worked hard on Tuesday night to try and help passengers with alternative arrangements.
MV Arrow carried extra freight to free up vehicle space on Ben-my-Chree’s scheduled Wednesday services so additional passengers could be accommodated.
As a result of that work the Steam Packet Company has confirmed that the majority of affected passengers have been moved to alternative sailings today (Wednesday) and the planned additional service on Thursday evening may no longer be needed.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We never want to cancel services, especially when we are so busy, but the weather conditions left us with no alternative as Heysham could not be safely used given wind speed and direction. Earlier in the day we had re-routed Ben-my-Chree to Birkenhead to ensure passengers could travel, but that option wasn’t available to us overnight due to the non-availability of port mooring and ropemen at the 12 Quays facility.
‘As soon as the cancellations were confirmed, our teams went to work assisting the affected passengers. We brought in extra reservations staff and extended the phone line opening hours to help as many people as we could.
‘We had 540 passengers booked on Tuesday’s 19.45 sailing to Heysham, and by midday on Wednesday more than half that number had already been accommodated on scheduled Ben-my-Chree and Manannan services. This saw our shore staff and vessel crews dealing with a massive number of passengers – there were 469 motorcycles on Wednesday morning’s Manannan sailing, which is a record – and I’d like to thank our staff for their hard work.
‘All passengers booked on the cancelled 02.15 return sailing were moved to alternative sailings, and were all accommodated by 14.15 on Wednesday.
‘The vast majority of passengers affected by the cancellations will have travelled by the end of today (Wednesday) and a small number will be accommodated on already scheduled services on Thursday. This means the additional service we announced for Thursday evening is under review as it may no longer be necessary thanks to the sterling work of our reservations teams, shore staff and vessel crews in ensuring our passengers could travel at the earliest opportunity.
‘I’d like to apologise to the passengers affected by the weather cancellation, and thank them for their patience while our staff sought alternative travel arrangements to minimise delays to their plans.’