The fourth quarter of 2023 saw a jump in the increase of cancelled sailings compared to previous years.

This marked the first winter of the Manxman operating as the flagship for the Steam Packet, but the figures also include Ben-my-Chree and Manannan sailings.

Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson provided the figures after a question from Jason Moorhouse (Arbory, Castletown and Malew).

In the final quarter of the year (October to December), there were 46 passenger sailings cancelled, with 42 being for weather and ‘other’ reasons.

This marks a sharp rise in weather cancellations, up to 42 from 12 in 2022 and 28 in 2021.

However, the number of technical cancellations saw a significant drop, down from 35 in 2021 to just four in 2023.

With the additional freight sailings for each year, this gave a net loss of sailings as 19 in 2021, 14 in 2022 and 37 in 2023.


In his response, Dr Allinson goes on to note that 2023 figures were affected by an ‘unprecedented’ number of storms, up from two in 2021 and none in 2022.

He said: ‘In order to avoid the risk of an accident resulting in catastrophic injury, damage or pollution to ship or port infrastructure the Steam Packet Company introduced restrictive sailing conditions which have gradually been lessened as experience is gained by the Masters operating the ship in ports, plus weather and tidal systems in the Irish Sea.

‘The Manxman operates under the vessel’s “decision to sail” matrix, which was implemented when the vessel first came into service.

‘The matrix is a risk assessment providing guidance to masters concerning safe port entry, based on wind strength/direction, tidal height/strength and other berth occupancy.’

He also noted that rules at Heysham prevent entry in wins exceeding 45 knots and that decision to cancel sailings for weather reasons is ‘primarily due to the ability of the vessel to safely enter port’.