Our Travel Editor outlines the rights of ship passengers if their ferry sailings are delayed or cancelled.
Travel Editor Pól Ó Conghaile outlines your passenger rights in the event of a ferry delay or cancellation.
1. What are my rights if a ferry is delayed or cancelled?
If your ferry is cancelled or delayed by more than 90 minutes, you have a right to a) a re-routing or b) a full reimbursement of the ticket price within seven days.
These should be offered at no additional cost to you.
As is the case with air passenger rights, a specific EU regulation exists to support ferry passenger rights, whether travel is by sea or inland waterway.
If your sailing is delayed for more than 90 minutes, your carrier should provide snacks, meals and refreshments - so long as they are available.
If an overnight stay is necessary, it should offer accommodation on board or ashore at no cost to you. If accommodation is necessary onshore, its cost can be limited to €80 per night for a maximum of three nights.
Overnight assistance comes in addition to meals and refreshments.
Depending on the scheduled duration of the journey and the length of delay, you may be entitled to 25pc to 50pc of your ticket price in compensation.
Compensation may NOT be available if delays or cancellation are caused by weather conditions endangering the safe operation of the ship, or if extraordinary circumstances affect the performance of the service.
Also, you will NOT be entitled to compensation if informed of the cancellation/delay before you buy the ticket, or if the delay/cancellation is your fault.
Generally, compensation is decided on a case-by-case basis.
Read Irish Ferries' Passenger Rights FAQ here.
If you believe compensation is due, the first step is to formally contact the ferry company, which should pay within one month of your claim.
If you're not satisfied with its response, then you can escalate by contacting the National Enforcement Body - which, in most cases for Irish passengers, is the National Transport Authority (01 879-8300; nationaltransport.ie).
EU Regulation 1777/2010 applies to re-routing, refunds, compensation and care and assistance, not the rest of your holiday costs.
This may differ if you book a ferry ticket as part of a package holiday - thanks to an added layer of protection in licensing and bonding.
Compensation (above) may go some way towards offsetting loses, as will adding 'travel disruption' cover to your travel insurance policy (below).
However, the EU Regulation does not preclude passengers seeking damages through the courts for losses incurred as a result of the cancellation/delay.
It depends on your policy - 'missed departure' cover, for example, can help you secure a new ticket, or an additional night's accommodation.
If your policy includes extra 'travel disruption' cover, you should be covered for additional transport or accommodation costs up to around €1,000pp.
This covers most scenarios with flight and ferry cancellations due to weather, strikes and so on, but note that it applies to transport and accommodation-related expenses only - i.e. not lost annual leave, concert tickets or attraction fees booked in advance online.
Always check your carrier's website (e.g. irishferries.com, brittanyferries.com, stenaline.ie) before leaving for your port.
In the event of a strike or cancellation, it should quickly post the relevant disruption information under 'sailing updates', including a list of affected services.
It should also contact you by email or SMS as soon as possible.