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Passenger ferry figures for those booked on the Isle of Man Steam Packet sailings for the annual TT are up this year.

This will be the first year for visitors traveling for the motorsport fortnight (May 27–June 8) when coming from Heysham to use the ferry company’s new flagship, Manxman.

Approximately 45% of passengers bound for the sporting event have opted to reach the Isle of Man when they depart from the Lancashire port that links Douglas.

The flagship, which entered service last August, can take 948 passengers; that’s over 300 more per sailing than the former flagship, the ropax Ben-my-Chree. Also, the new build built in Asia has 10% more vehicle lane capacity.

As for the 26-year-old ropax, it remains in the company's fleet as a backup vessel and is based in Douglas Harbour.

However, more capacity is available, according to Steam Packet’s Managing Director, Brian Thomson, who has more to say on the fortnight.

To listen, ManxRadio has an audio clip.

Published in Ferry

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced there will be changes to four sailings during this year’s TT Races to be held next month.

These particular ferry crossings, initially set to take place on the Douglas-Liverpool route between June 2 and June 3, have been moved to Heysham, the terminal in Lancashire, which serves the main route to the Manx capital.

The move of English port, reports IOMToday, comes after Global Ports Holding (GPH), the new operator at Pier Head in Liverpool, told the IOMSPCo that a previously agreed usage of the Landing Stage (see new terminal) on those days will prevent the ferry operators’ high-speed craft, Manannan from using the berth.

The Steam Packet’s M.D., Brian Thomson, said: ‘We have sought to reduce the inconvenience to our customers by securing as much use of the Pier Head landing stage as possible, especially during the busiest time of our year’.

Published in Ferry

Once the new £70m ferry terminal in Liverpool Docks is in operation, it is hoped the Isle of Man Steam Packet can put on a year-round operated service between Douglas and Merseyside.

The Steam packet’s fast-ferry Manannan currently does not take passengers to Merseyside during the winter months. However, the 865 capacity craft did receive some modifications to allow it to berth at the new site when trails took place last month at the Princes’ Half-Tide Dock facility.

In the meantime, the latest business plan of the IOMSP shows it doesn't expect the 1998 built / 200 car capacity fastcraft, will be replaced before 2030.

As ManxRadio reports, there are questions that still hang over as to when the new terminal in the northwest of England port will be in operation, with a number of recent deadlines for opening missed.

A committee was told by the IOMSP’s Managing Director, Brian Thomson on what's expected once the new terminal is ready to welcomes passengers (to listen, click station's audio link).

The MD said that the operation of a high-speed catamaran is perhaps not the best option going forward.

Noting, last week the Packet Company confirmed that the Manannan had been damaged during a very rough crossing from Liverpool to the Isle of Man, for more the radio station also has the story here.

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The ferry operator, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, has confirmed that final 2023 passenger statistics show the highest number of passengers and vehicles carried since 2007, TT’s 100th anniversary.

In 2023, the Company transported 623,037 passengers and 196,430 vehicles. In comparison, in 2007 the Company transported 632,942 passengers and 197,745 vehicles.

The numbers show growth over 2022’s figures which saw the Company’s vessels carrying a total of 595,390 passengers and 192,928 vehicles. The statistics show continued growth in passenger figures post-Covid-19 Pandemic and reflect a positive trend for the Company to build on going forward.

Brian Thomson, Managing Director, commented: "We are delighted to share the Company's 2023 statistics. The high volume of passengers and vehicles carried is a testament to the ongoing commitment to improving services across the Company. In 2023, we refurbished Manannan and brought Manxman into service.

Looking ahead to 2024 we have further improvements currently underway on Manannan including improved children’s play area, a larger retail space and other facilities to improve the passenger experience. We’re also looking forward to bringing the Isle of Man Government’s new Liverpool terminal online. As a Company we’re not resting on our laurels, we’re determined to grow passenger numbers even further."

Published in Ferry

The chairman of the Isle of Man Steam Packet has said a "clear government statement" is needed on whether the firm can sell its current backup ferry.

The Steam Packet outlined plans to sell the 26-year-old ropax Ben-My-Chree in its last annual report, which was published last summer.

At a Tynwald (Manx parliament) select committee on the regulation of the island, a government-owned firm heard that the company's strategy was to retain the ro-ro freight-only MV Arrow as a backup vessel instead because the costs of retaining the Ben-my-Chree were "twice as much.".

The chairman, Lars Ugland, said a year after delivering its report, the company was still waiting for a reply on whether it could sell the Dutch-built ferry that served the main Douglas-Heysham route.

At the same committee, held earlier this month, Treasury Minister Alex Allinson said that the future role of Ben-My-Chree should be considered as part of a review of the company's service contract.

More BBC News reports on the Sea Services Agreement.

Published in Ferry

An agreement has been reached says the Isle of Man Steam Packet, with the union representing its officers, in resolving the issue regarding terms which the ferry operator said they must live aboard the fleet at times.

According to Manx Radio, the company hasn't said what the agreement with the union, Nautilus International is, and whether officers will live aboard at times or not.

The Steam Packet’s Managing Director, Brian Thomson said: "We are pleased that our Officers and Nautilus brought solutions to our negotiations that have enabled us to reach a positive and fair agreement that ensures that we can continue to deliver a high-quality service to our customers."

He added, "We would like to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication during this period. We can now focus on delivering the reliable and quality service that our passengers expect and deserve on board our vessels which are the envy of the Irish Sea."

The Government owned company says the flagship Manxman, introduced last year, was designed for live aboard, and the practice allows for more flexibility and resilience to the sailing schedule.

Union members in December, had objected to the proposals and subsequent industrial action, coupled with poor weather, caused disruption over the busy Christmas and New Year periods.

The radio station has contacted the Steam Packet and Nautilus to find out more about the agreement, following the dispute of recent years.

Published in Ferry

Observed entering Dublin Bay this morning was the Isle of Man Steam Packet’s Manannan, having departed Douglas Harbour, but the fast-ferry was not in service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The reason for the call by the 98m catamaran craft to Dublin Port was to enable a safety inspection carried out by the Irish Marine Administration (IMA) at the Department of Transport. The examination is to asses the fitness of the fast-ferry to operate to and from Ireland, prior to resuming the seasonal route between these ports, starting in two week's time on 4 April. 

A total of 18 sailings are scheduled for the 2024 timetable, as Afloat previously reported on the crossing taking 2 hours 55 minutes. Facilities of the fastferry include standard seating areas, two cinema lounges, a large bar area at the stern and a cafe, a shop in addition to reserved and premium lounges.

The 1998 built Manannan initially spent some time off the Dublin Bay Buoy before entering the port this afternoon. Likewise of previous such occasions, the fast ferry did not berth at its routine link-span at Dublin Ferryport (Terminal 1) but instead headed upriver to Alexandra Basin (East). It was at the basin's Ocean Pier linkspan where less shipping activity enabled an inspection to be carried out on the fast ferry.

The 865 passenger/200 vehicle capacity fast-ferry will also operate other Irish Sea routes leading up to and during the summer months. This involves the Manx capital’s connection to Belfast and the link to Liverpool; see a related story on the new £70m ferry terminal where a lease agreement has yet to be reached.

In the meantime, Manannan is to remain in Dublin Port until a departure of 18:00.

Published in Dublin Port

The Isle of Man Steam Packet’s fast-ferry Manannan made its first berthing trials on Merseyside’s new £70 million ferry terminal at Liverpool, from where they will connect Douglas.

The 1998 built Manannan, which operates seasonal services, undertook the exercise yesterday as part of the commissioning trial for the Irish Sea’s newest terminal. The trials are to enable major infrastructure marine works to be tested, with the 96m catamaran craft coming alongside the quay and link span.

Berthing trials are necessary as they are a mandatory safety procedure that are required during a project of this type as they enable each of the Steam Packet’s captains to become accustomed to the new berth at all tide levels.

The flagship of the company, Manxman, introduced last August, is to undertake berthing trials too, but the 133m ferry will take place later this year, prior to the start of the winter weekend sailing schedule.

As previously reported, Manxman had carried out 'virtual' berthing at the terminal.

More from Manx Radio on this development for the operator.

Published in Ferry

A Manx Parliament (Tynwald) select committee is looking into the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which will involve evidence sessions this month.

The Tynwald reports 3FM, will host the two evidence sessions as the select committee is investigating the sea services agreement and the government's shareholder status with the IOMSPCo.

The ferry company operates a year-round Douglas-Heysham route in addition to three seasonal routes linking Belfast, Dublin, and Liverpool, and where a new terminal is to open. Operating these routes involves two ferries (one in reserve), a fast ferry (seasonal-only), and a freight-only ferry, which is called upon during busy periods and relief duties.

The select committee’s session today is to take evidence from Treasury Minister Alex Allinson, Chief Financial Officer at the Treasury, Caldric Randall, and Interim Executive Officer for Financial Governance, Sarah De-Yoxall.

This morning at 10.30 a.m., the committee will sit in the Legislative Chambers.

Published in Ferry

During this winter the number of cancelled ferry sailings operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have increased for the third consecutive year.

The new figures for the final there months of last year show that 46 sailings on the Douglas-Heysham route were cancelled which is up 45 percent on the previous year. In that year of 2022, there were 29 cancellations and for the year before there were 26.

The Isle of Man government owned ferry operator- puts the increased disruption last year due to an 'unprecedented number of storms', familiarisation with the newbuild flagship Manxman's handling in extreme weather conditions and ongoing training programmes.

Manxman was introduced onto the Douglas-Heysham route in August last year having replaced Ben-My-Chree which had served the main IOM-England link for the past 25 years.  

For more, Manx Radio reports.

Published in Ferry
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