Further delays to the arrival of new ship will disrupt around 19,000 passengers, company says
Up to 19,000 passengers have had their holiday plans thrown into disarray this afternoon as Irish Ferries announces further delays to the arrival of its W.B. Yeats cruise ferry.
The €147m ship was due to start sailing between Ireland and France and the UK from July 30, but all sailings up to September 13 have now been cancelled.
"Irish Ferries regrets to announce that, due to extraordinary circumstances beyond its control, the delivery of the W.B. Yeats has been further delayed by FSG," it said.
'FSG' refers to Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft & Co.KG, the German shipbuilder charged with delivering the state-of-the-art ship.
Approximately 6,000 bookings will be impacted by the delays, Irish Ferries has confirmed - or up to 19,000 passengers.
The setback, which FSG says is "due to delays in the delivery of interior components for public areas and on the electrical system installation in the hull and deckhouse", is the second to impact passengers booked onto the W.B. Yeats.
Last April, a further 2,500 bookings were disrupted when Irish Ferries cancelled sailings on the ship between July 12 and 29.
Due to the latest uncertainty, the company has now cancelled all Dublin-Cherbourg sailings up to September 13, and will instead debut the ship on its Dublin-Holyhead route this autumn.
"We feel desperately let down by this," Andrew Sheen, Managing Director with Irish Ferries, told Independent.ie Travel.
The company is contacting affected customers this afternoon to inform them of the cancellations, offer alternative travel options, and apologise for the disruption to their travel arrangements, he added.
Ferry passenger rights
Under EU regulations, passengers whose ferry sailings are cancelled or delayed by more than 90 minutes have a right to a re-routing or a full reimbursement of the ticket price within seven days, as well as compensation in certain situations.
Irish Ferries says affected customers are now being offered a number of alternative travel options, including:
Customers who choose the land-bridge option will also be reimbursed the cost of their fuel requirements from the port of arrival in the UK to the port of arrival in France, the company says.
In addition, as it did last April, Irish Ferries is offering each affected customer a €150 voucher. This "goodwill gesture" can only be used on Ireland-France routes "next year", however - not in the 2018 season.
"We apologise absolutely," Sheen said, adding that he hoped up to 90pc of passengers would choose to avail of its alternatives.
"Clearly, we're accountable for where we place the order, but we're not a shipbuilder," he added. "This is an extraordinary event that's outside of our control."
NB: Affected customers can contact Irish Ferries directly on +353 (0) 818 300 400 or email email@example.com.
This story is being updated.