The boss of the Steam Packet has said the company has to be 'realistic about timelines' ahead of the opening of the new Isle of Man ferry terminal in Liverpool.

It comes after some reports earlier this week said the £70m terminal was expected to welcome its first passengers in March.

Work started on the new facility at Princes Half Tide Dock back in 2019 and was meant to be finished by August 2021.

However, the project has been hit by a number of setbacks and has seen costs spiral.

In a statement issued this evening, Steam Packet Managing Director Brian Thomson confirmed that the company are preparing to start trials and training at the new facility with some of its vessels and crew.

He said: 'We’re very excited about the prospect of improved passenger experience that the new terminal promises, but we also have to be realistic about timelines.

'Taking a ship, particularly a passenger vessel, to a new berth for the first time is an involved process, and as we always say, safety is our top priority.

‘All being well, we are on schedule to commence operations from the new Isle of Man Government terminal in Spring 2024, but until the berth fit has taken place and we’ve started berth trials we won’t be in a position to commit to a firm date for the first sailing.’

According to the Steam Packet, the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure (DoI) is working towards having the first 'berth fit' trials at at Princes Half Tide Dock in early March with the Manannan set to be the first vessel to moor to the new linkspan.

If those trials go to plan, the company expects to start mooring trials and familiarisation at the new facility towards the end of March. 

A statement issued by the Steam Packet said: 'This is quite an intensive set of manoeuvres requiring vessels to be brought alongside at all states of tide and in different weather conditions to build a full picture for the company’s risk assessments and safety management system.' Mr Thomson added: ‘This has been a bigger project than most people expected and a lot has changed since it started out.

'One thing that has changed is the commercial underpinnings.

'We’ve been working with the Department of Infrastructure to re-evaluate the heads of terms that were signed early on in the process.

'I’m pleased to report those talks are going well and we should be in a position to sign off on the lease shortly.

'This will allow us to get started on the works that we need to do within the terminal and around the facility to be ready to welcome passengers as soon as possible.’