The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is confirming its intention to operate Manxman’s first service sailing on Thursday 17th August.
The new flagship is expected to depart Douglas on the 08:45 sailing to Heysham, returning at 14:15.
Travellers who are currently booked on the sailing will be joined by the winners of the public draw to be on board for the first passenger crossing. 50 names were drawn at random to each win two tickets for the first service sailing, from over 6000 entries received.
The milestone sailing will be the culmination of a project that began in 2019 as the Company drew up specifications for replacing Ben-my-Chree.
Following public consultations many features requested by travellers, such as enhanced accessibility and better provision for pets were designed in from the start.
From Thursday, passengers should be able to enjoy Manxman’s improved offering including a purpose designed children’s play area, enhanced retail offering, café, eatery and bar, and new lounges including the Injebreck Exclusive pod lounge.
Manxman was built in Ulsan, South Korea after a tendering process that included shipyards in Poland and Turkey.
Despite Covid, typhoons and global financial instability following the invasion of Ukraine, Manxman was delivered on budget in May before beginning her voyage to her home port of Douglas.
The inaugural sailing sets the pattern for Manxman’s first month of service as it operates the day time sailings to Heysham. Ben-my-Chree will continue to run the overnight service to allow Manxman time to bed-in before operating night time sailings to Heysham. The evening departure from Douglas will move from 19:45 to 20:15 to allow for the changeover of vessels on the King Edward VIII Pier. It is expected the change over from day to night sailings will happen on 17th September.
To ensure the Company has an immediate backup vessel in case of any issues, Ben-my-Chree will continue in operation until Manxman takes over the schedule full time in mid-to-late October.
Manxman will, initially, sail on the Heysham route to the same timetable as Ben-my-Chree. However, from the start, Manxman’s design was intended to optimise it for more flexible operation and the Company is considering new ways to improve the service.
More details around plans for Manxman’s service will be released shortly.
Ahead of the first sailing the vessel will undergo its final safety inspection, in order for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate to be issued. Ben-my-Chree and Manannan undergo a similar process annually as part of their ongoing certification.