Passengers re-booked before Christmas as MV Arrow returns to meet demand


After ‘unprecedented’ fog caused sailing disruption in Heysham over the weekend, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has chartered the return of MV Arrow to meet demand in the run-up to Christmas.

The freight vessel is currently making her way up to the Lancaster port where she is due to arrive in the early hours of tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Over the next few days, she will sail between Heysham and Douglas on five occasions to transport essential food and goods to the Island community in time for the festive period.

This will free up additional capacity on overnight sailings for passengers with vehicles on the Ben-my-Chree. Every passenger affected by the weekend’s disruption has now been able to re-book their sailing this side of Christmas.

Steam Packet Company Managing Director Brian Thomson said: ‘The level of fog we encountered over the weekend was unprecedented and I am told by a long-serving member of the team that they have not experienced it to this degree in more than 40 years.

‘As a result of the disruption, we have ordered the Arrow to return which will allow us to release more car deck spaces on the Ben-my-Chree, as well as alleviate some of the freight pressure and provide extra support to ensure essential goods are delivered.

‘The importance of ensuring passengers can get where they need to be at this time of year is clear and I am pleased to say everyone who has re-booked their travel has been able to do so in time for Christmas.

‘The Steam Packet Company teams, both Island-based and in Heysham, have worked tirelessly to make this happen and I would like to thank them for pulling out all the stops at such a critical time of year.’

Mr Thomson continued: ‘While the staff have worked incredibly hard during unsociable hours to help passengers, the verbal abuse they received from a small number of travellers over the weekend, despite the situation being out of our control, is simply unacceptable.

‘Hard-working front-line staff continue to work flat out to support travellers and should not be subjected to any form of abuse or intolerable behaviour.

‘Good customer service is important for us and we are always striving to improve the way we deal with passengers, but in return we expect the same levels of courtesy.

‘Thankfully the majority of our passengers were understanding of the situation and we wish them a Happy Christmas.’