Tuesday 21 February 2017

87 passengers, 28 hours at sea and three efforts to dock in a 'nightmare' voyage

Published 23/11/2016 | 02:30

Relief on the faces of passengers Anne Tomlinson and John-Boy Lawrence
Relief on the faces of passengers Anne Tomlinson and John-Boy Lawrence

For some it was the journey from hell - but after almost 28 hours at sea, the oldest passenger on board was wondering what the fuss was about.

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After a marathon journey brought about by rough weather, a total of 87 passengers and 59 crew were finally able to disembark the Stena Europe Rosslare to Fishguard service.

Alice O’Brien, of London, summons up a smile after arriving at Fishguard
Alice O’Brien, of London, summons up a smile after arriving at Fishguard

Giles Fitzherbert (81), a retired diplomat from Wexford, made light of the conditions as he looked forward to visiting family in Oxford.

"I have been travelling for a very long time and compared with some of my experiences this crossing was quite smooth, believe me," he said.

"I just wish my grandchildren had been with me because they'd have enjoyed the excitement. It wasn't traumatic - we were actually quite comfortable."

Mr Fitzherbert added: "Arriving a day late is just a little inconvenience - having said that, I now need a train to Oxford and there's currently absolutely no sign of it."

The ferry left the Wexford port at 9am on Monday and was due to arrive in the Welsh port at 12.30pm, but stormy seas prevented a safe berthing on two separate occasions.

Passengers spent Monday night at sea. The third attempt to dock at Fishguard took place yesterday and was successful.

Passengers disembarking spoke of their relief that their rough passage was finally over.Anne Burke (59), of New Ross, had been travelling to see her two-week-old grandson in Bridgend, south Wales.

"I'd rung Rosslare the night before and was told the crossing would be fine," she said.

Stena Line ferry Adventurer heads out of Dublin Bay
Stena Line ferry Adventurer heads out of Dublin Bay

"As it turned out, the weather was horrendous."

Her views were echoed by Catrina O'Regan, a 25-year-old student from Cork city who was travelling back to her digs near Swansea.

"It was horrific," she said.

"I've been travelling since 4am on Sunday and I'm totally exhausted having not slept for 27 hours. This was my first time aboard a ferry and I'll certainly not be doing it again in a hurry.

"But the crew were amazing - they did everything they could for us, to be honest."

Alice O'Brien, who was travelling back to London, said: "It was a complete nightmare."

Michael Lawrence (45), a crane driver originally from Mayo who was returning to his home in Bristol, said the Stena crew made one big mistake.

"They closed the bar at 9pm," he said. "If someone is suffering from nerves they obviously need a drink or two.

"Yes, there was plenty of tea and coffee but an Irishman such as myself needs something a bit stronger than that. I rang the wife back home to tell her there was a huge party on board - sadly that wasn't the case."

A Stena Line spokeswoman told RTÉ radio that in terms of compensation, "all passengers will be looked after".

Irish Independent

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