Ferries

When you travel by sea or inland waterway in the EU you are protected by consumer rights. These come from Regulation No. 1177/2010 which came into effect in Ireland in 2012.  The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for enforcing these EU rules in Ireland. The regulation applies to passengers embarking in a port in the EU or whose journey ends in an EU port, if the service provider, for example the ferry company, is based in the EU.

The NTA has an Information Note for Passengers which contains the following information:

  • What types of ships or services are covered by the regulation?
  • What information should I receive if my ferry is delayed or cancelled?
  • Am I entitled to compensation in the case of delay or cancellation?
  • As a disabled passenger or a passenger with reduced mobility, what are my rights?
  • Are there any exceptions to these rights?
  • As a disabled passenger or a passenger with reduced mobility, what sort of assistance am I entitled to?
  • What is the position when a disabled passenger or a passenger with reduced mobility needs to be accompanied by another person?
  • What are the prior notification requirements if I need assistance during my journey?
  • What happens if mobility equipment is lost or damaged?
Summary of ferry passenger rights
Delays or cancellation
  • The ferry company has to inform you of delays as soon as possible, and no later than 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time. They should inform you of the new departure and arrival times as soon as they are available.
  • If the ferry is cancelled or delayed by more than 90 minutes the ferry company must offer you a choice between:
  • Rerouting to your destination at the earliest opportunity, at no extra cost
  • A refund of your ticket price (within 7 days)
Assistance
  • If you are delayed by more than 90 minutes the ferry company must offer you free snacks, meals or refreshments in line with the length of the delay.
Accommodation
  • If your sailing is delayed or cancelled and involves an overnight stay the ferry company must offer you free accommodation, as well as snacks, meals and refreshments. The accommodation cost is limited to €80 per person, up to a maximum of three nights.
Compensation You are entitled to claim 25% of the ticket price from the ferry company if you are delayed arriving at your final destination by at least:

  • One hour on a journey scheduled to last up to four hours
  • Two hours on a journey scheduled to last between four and eight hours
  • Three hours on a journey scheduled to last between eight and 24 hours, or
  • Six hours on a journey scheduled to last more than 24 hours

If the delay is more than double the timeframes above, the compensation will be 50% of the ticket price.

Exemptions
  • You will not be entitled to accommodation or compensation if the ferry company can prove that the cancellation or delay was caused by weather conditions which would make it unsafe to sail, or by extraordinary circumstances (such as natural disasters).
  • You will not be entitled to rerouting, refund, assistance, accommodation or compensation if you are travelling on an open ticket on which the time of departure is not specified, unless you hold a travel pass or season ticket.
  • You will not be entitled to assistance or compensation if you are informed of the delay before you buy the ticket, or if the cancellation or delay is caused by your own actions.

Lost or damaged baggage or car

If your baggage is lost or damaged or your car is damaged, the ferry company’s responsibilities are set out in the Athens Convention. The ferry company is not responsible for any valuables, such as jewellery, if you did not ask for them to go into the ship’s safe.

If you have lost luggage and it is recovered on the ferry or in the port, it is normally sent to the ferry company’s shore offices for collection.

  • The ferry company’s liability for loss or damage to cabin baggage is limited to about €2,000 per passenger
  • Liability for a lost/damaged car, including any baggage in or on your vehicle, is limited to about €12,600
  • Liability for other lost/damaged baggage is limited to about €3,400 per passenger

You should report damage to baggage in writing within the following timeframes:

  • If you can see damage when you are leaving the ferry or when your baggage is returned to you, make your complaint immediately.
  • If the damage is not obvious at first, make the claim within 15 days of leaving the ferry or having your bag returned to you. If your bag is lost and not returned to you, make your complaint within 15 days of when it should have been returned.
  • You don’t need to give written notice if your baggage has been jointly looked at by you and the ferry company before leaving the ship.

Reduced Mobility

People with a disability or reduced mobility have specific rights when travelling. Tour operators, ferry companies and port authorities must provide practical help to people with a disability or reduced mobility. Any person who suffers from a disability, whether temporary or permanent and regardless of the reason, is entitled to certain types of assistance when travelling by sea. Most importantly any assistance given is free of charge to the passenger. If the tour operator or ferry company require you to travel with a carer, that person must be taken free of charge. You should notify the ferry company or port authority when you are making your booking.

Complaints

If you want to make a complaint, you should make it to the ferry operator or port authority in the first instance. Each company must have a complaint handling process in place. You must submit your complaint within two months. The ferry company or port authority must respond to you within one month to tell you whether your complaint has been accepted, rejected or is still being considered, and they must give you a final response within two months.

If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you can appeal to the National Transport Authority, tel: +353 (0)1 879 8300.

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