The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company handled a record-breaking number of bookings when reservations opened for the 2018 TT festival on Monday.


The Company started taking provisional reservations at 8.30am and by the end of the day had completed more than 5,000 bookings, a substantial increase on the 3,500 handled on the same day in 2016, which was the previous record high.


Almost 14,000 passengers were booked to travel, up more than 4,000 on 2016. The number of motorcycles booked reached 6,511, a significant increase on the 2016 figure of 4,755.


Online bookings were up by more than 1,000 on last year, with 3,235 made through, and 1,893 reservations were made by phone or in person, also an increase on 2016.


The Steam Packet Company Reservations Office and phone lines were fully staffed throughout the day, with extra staff brought in to help deal with the anticipated demand and teams in Liverpool and Heysham also helping out.


Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘I would like to pay tribute to all our staff who worked hard throughout the day to assist as many TT fans as possible to secure their travel for the 2018 TT.


‘We experienced a significant increase in provisional bookings compared with the same time last year, which underlines the continued growth in popularity of the TT. By bringing in additional staff where possible and investing significantly to make our online booking system more robust we have made further steps forward in meeting the substantial demand.


‘Next year we will open provisional bookings for the 2019 TT one week earlier, on Monday, 21st May 2018. Traditionally provisional bookings for the following year’s TT have opened during TT Practice Week, but this is a time when our staff are already very busy and bringing the date forward will allow us to deploy additional staff to assist customers with their bookings.’


The Steam Packet Company has been able to meet the increased travel demand, for motorcycles in particular, thanks to substantial investment in a removable mezzanine deck for fast craft Manannan and continued charter of MV Arrow to provide freight support. Final figures for passengers carried during this year’s TT are expected to be released next week.

Mr Woodward concluded: ‘Despite the volume of reservations we have already handled, there are still places on sailings to the Isle of Man during the 2018 TT, so it is worth checking on line or with our reservations team.’