A politician has criticised Steam Packet bosses for failing to update passengers on one of the company’s delayed sailings.

Dr Michelle Haywood was among a number of customers waiting to board the Manannan on one of its journeys from Liverpool Douglas last week.

That sailing however was one of a number of crossings hit by delays as a result of tumultuous weather conditions brought on by Storm Kathleen.

The Manannan eventually docked in Liverpool and returned to the Isle of Man hours later than scheduled.

However, it was not the unavoidable delays but the lack of updates given to passengers waiting to board the vessel at that left the Rushen MHK frustrated.

She said: ‘My issue is that once the Captain had left Douglas and was taking the ‘weather route’ the Company [Steam Packet] knew that the vessel would arrive late in Liverpool, and would therefore be departing late too. 

‘But there were no updates at all.

‘In fact the dot matrix sign on the side of the vehicle check in kiosk was still confidently telling us that it was an 20:45 departure, when the boat was still in the Mersey at that time and hadn’t yet berthed.’

She has now called for the Steam Packet Company, an arms length government organisation, to improve its communications with passengers when changes to planned sailing times and cancellations arise.

She said: ‘There are several problems around the issue of changing sailing times and poor communications. 

‘For people who book a trip and book rail tickets (which are almost impossible to change) they ended up at the ferry terminal for the original check in, so in the end they were nearly four hours waiting. 

‘This is especially hard when you have children with you.

‘There were parents doing their hardest to keep their children fed, watered and entertained, but a delay without any accurate information makes that job harder.’

Dr Haywood said that she was not blaming ‘the shore crew or the [Steam Packet’s] boat crew’ for the lack of updates but criticised ‘the fact that the Steam Packet actually has a way of updating passengers about their trip but they don’t use it’. 

She said that the lack of communication makes travelling with the Steam Packet ‘just a bit more irritating than it needs to be’ and said better communication would ‘go a long way to building a better relationship between the company and its clientele’.

A spokesman for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company said a representative from the ferry firm has ‘personally reached out to Dr Haywood following her comments’.

They added: ‘We always aim to deliver timely communication to our passengers via text and email, and customer service is of top priority for us.

‘Over the past week, Storm Kathleen has caused large disruption to all our sailings and our staff have been working flat out to accommodate rescheduled sailings and deliver communication as best we can.

‘We’d like to thank all our staff for their hard work and dedication to helping our passengers’.