Stormy weather leaves 550 passengers stranded on ferry for over 20 hours
Passengers stranded for over 20 hours on board an Irish Ferries ship off the coast of France may receive financial compensation from the company.
High winds and heavy seas prevented the Rosslare-to-Cherbourg ferry, with 550 passengers – of which 150 were Irish – from landing at the French port.
Strong gales and heavy seas meant passengers spent Monday night on board the ship 'Oscar Wilde' after it failed to dock.
An Irish Ferries spokesman told the Irish Independent that the company has not ruled out providing compensation for passengers, and management, "will consider the issue and make a decision further down the road.
"The matter of compensation is something that's provided for under recent EU regulations. It's too early to discuss it but I've no doubt that the issue will arise at some stage.
"We don't know in what form the compensation may be given. Our main object is the safety and wellbeing of our passengers."
Matters were complicated further when the ship eventually docked – at the fifth attempt – shortly after 2.30pm yesterday and the bow door could not be opened due to a hydraulics failure on board.
Engineers worked for over three hours to fix the system and informed passengers at 6pm that it had been resolved.
"Normally we'd solve this problem by reversing the ship out and reversing it back in again and then use a back door, but the weather didn't allow us to do that,'' said the spokesman.
Among those stranded on board were 270 French students who had been on a trip to Ireland, plus 150 Irish passengers. Despite the assistance of a number of tugs, the ship found it impossible to reach port late on Monday night due to hazardous weather conditions, including winds of over 100 km an hour.
An Irish crew member from Skull in West Cork suffered a broken ankle when a line snapped during one of the attempts to dock.
This followed three failed attempts to reach the harbour.
The vessel, which left Rosslare, Co Wexford, at around 6pm on Sunday, was due to arrive at Cherbourg at 2pm on Monday.
The landing was further complicated by the fact that the port area and roads around Cherbourg were gripped by snow and icy conditions.