Following a recent public consultation on whether the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry services should relocate to Larne, it has been decided that they will continue to operate from Belfast in 2018.
Successful berthing trials of both Steam Packet vessels proved that it was possible for them to operate to and from Larne. However, after 3,000 responses to the online survey, the consultation demonstrated that many foot passengers found that sailing into Belfast city centre was very convenient. Something which would not be the case if the service was relocated to Larne.
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said:
"It was clear from our consultation that while the facilities at Larne were an attraction that received wide support there were some respondents who expressed a preference for retaining Belfast as a destination, due to its location and nearby network of transportation to other parts of Ireland.
The Company has decided that for 2018 it will continue to operate to and from Belfast, but will seek further dialogue with Belfast Harbour authorities to improve the linkspan facilities to provide a service for the transportation of larger vehicles which can be taken on Manannan from other ports. If those upgrades cannot be undertaken it will make sense for the Isle of Man if we will look again at Larne to provide a service for larger vehicles."
The online survey also highlighted the need for more regularly scheduled sailings to both Belfast and Dublin. Unfortunately, due to the cost this is not something which will be pursued at the moment.