Irish Ferries says 6,000 bookings would be affected by a further delay to the delivery of its new ship W.B. Yeats, which had been due to commence sailings between Ireland and France on July 30.
All planned sailings to France aboard W.B. Yeats this summer have been cancelled, with the ship now likely to enter service from Dublin and Holyhead in September.
Irish Ferries said it was contacting all affected customers, some of whom would have been due to travel in a little over six weeks, to apologise and offer them alternative travel options.
The ITAA though said the announcement came too late and would ruin thousands of Irish families’ summer holidays.
John Spollen, ITAA president, said: [The] announcement by Irish Ferries is extremely disappointing and will pose major disruptions to many Irish holidaymakers. 6,000 bookings, that is 6,000 family holidays, have been affected by this announcement.
“I do appreciate Irish Ferries has offered alternative travel arrangements for all bookings, but mid June is extremely late to make this announcement.
"Families have accommodation booked for set dates that may be difficult to change to accommodate new travel dates. This will lead to Irish visitors incurring extra costs and disruption to their holiday plans.
“Our members are disappointed by the deferral of the launch of the W.B. Yeats. This delay has a massive impact on our customers who had planned to travel to France on Irish Ferries new service this summer. I suggest holiday makers who have been affected by this contact their travel agent with whom they made their original booking with.”
The ferry operator said due to “extraordinary circumstances beyond its control, German shipbuilder, Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft & Co.KG (FSG), has been forced to further delay delivery of W.B. Yeats.
“Approximately 6,000 bookings will be impacted by this issue,” said the company in a statement.
“Customers affected are being offered a number of alternative travel options, e.g. alternative direct sailings on the Oscar Wilde, or a ‘land-bridge’ option, i.e. sailing to the UK (from either Dublin or Rosslare) and then to France.
“If alternative travel arrangements do not suit, customers will, of course, be entitled to a full and immediate refund of all monies paid.”
It is the second FSG delay to hit Irish Ferries’ summer programme. In April, the operator was forced to cancel all its July sailings aboard W.B. Yeats when FSG advised of the initial delay, affecting around 2,500 bookings.
The line added: “Irish Ferries very much regrets the inconvenience these cancellations cause our customers and hopes that as many as possible will choose to be accommodated via the company’s alternative arrangements and continue with their holiday plans.
"As valued customers of Irish Ferries, we are offering each affected customer a €150 voucher which can be used on any of our Ireland-France routes next year.”