Isle of Man News - POSTED Tue 26-08-2014

Ferry operator comes in for criticism

by Joanne Clague

Ferry operator comes in for criticism - picture

Continuing problems with the Steam Packet Company's seacat vessel have led to an MHK calling for better communication with passengers.

Last night's sailing to Douglas was cancelled after passengers sat on board the Manannan for more than two hours. Today's sailing from the Isle of Man to Belfast has been cancelled. A bank holiday weekend sailing was also disrupted. Passengers said the Saturday morning service to Liverpool was delayed by an hour after engine problems during the journey from Douglas.

There has been criticism on facebook from ex-tourism minister David Cretney MHK, who wrote: 'Feeling very sorry for the passengers on the seacat tonight...I will be contacting the Steam Packet management about poor communication with customers..really not good enough. This needs sorting out it's not as if it's just a 'one off'.'

Bed and breakfast operator Gary Chatel wrote: 'How bad is it when Manx Radio has to rely on stranded seacat passengers in Liverpool for updates as SP don't update the website so another night waiting up for guests.'

In a statement issued this morning, the Steam Packet said: 'Isle of Man Steam Packet vessel Manannan was unable to return to Douglas last night from Liverpool due to a suspected engine electrical control system issue, which prevented one of her engines from starting.

'Specialist engineers will attend the vessel in Liverpool this morning (Tuesday) and it is hoped that they will be able to find and fix the fault.

'In order to keep the majority of traffic moving, the Belfast sailing today has been cancelled and will be amalgamated with the Dublin sailing tomorrow. Assuming the engine fault can be fixed, Manannan will leave Liverpool at 12pm today and will then take up her scheduled sailings.

'Ben-my-Chree’s overnight sailing from Heysham was delayed to assist with transfers and returns to her normal schedule this morning.

'Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We would like to apologise to all affected passengers and assure you we are doing everything we can to remedy the situation. However, passenger safety is our first priority and we will not sail until we are satisfied that the issue has been properly resolved.'

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