Irish sea ferry services

Most Irish sea ferry services are operating but have introduced measures to ensure passengers and staff are safe during COVID-19. Click on the links below to find out more.

Due to the closure of borders by the Isle of Man Government services to the and from the Isle of Man are severely restricted.

Strangford Lough Ferry

The normal operating timetable was restored on the Strangford Lough Ferry on the 10th August.

Rathlin Island Ferry

Restrictions on travel to and from Rathlin Island have been eased since the start of July 2020. There are still restrictions in place for passengers using the ferry as well as limited facilities available.

Find out more from the Rathlin Ferry Service website.

Carlingford Lough & Lough Foyle Ferries

Both the Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle ferries plan to restart services in July.

Face Coverings when using ferry services

In line with Government requirements and other transport  services passengers are required to wear a face covering on most ferry services.

There are exemptions to these rules for disabled people who find wearing a face covering very difficult or impossible. You can find out more about exemptions from the NI Direct website.


Your rights to assistance when using ferry services are still in place despite COVID-19. You should let the ferry operator know about your requirements at the time of booking.

The Consumer Council website

The Consumer Council has put together useful information and advice around ferry travel during COVID-19 including for anyone affected by cancellations.

For more information visit the Consumer Council website.

Ferries to Great Britain from Northern Irelamd

There are a number of ferry companies operating services between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. These are:

  • Stenaline – Services between Belfast & Liverpool and Belfast & Cairnryan
  • P&O – Services between Larne & Cairnryan
  • Steam Packet Company – Service between Belfast & Douglas (Isle of Man)

Ferries to Great Britain from Dublin

Many people also use Dublin Port to get to and from Northern Ireland and Great Britain. 

These ferry companies operate services between Dublin and Great Britain.

  • Stenaline – Services between Dublin and Holyhead and Dublin and Liverpool
  • Irish Ferries – Services between Dublin and Holyhead.

Northern Ireland ferry services

The Department for Infrastructure supports two ferry services in Northern Ireland. These are

  • The Rathlin Island Ferry
  • The Strangford Ferry

For more information about both ferry services visit the NI Direct website.

Two private ferry services operate between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These are:

  • The Carlingford Lough Ferry – operating between Greencastle & Greenore
  • The Lough Foyle Ferry – operating between Magilligan & Greencastle

Visit The Carlingford Lough website.

Visit The Lough Foyle Ferry website.

European Regulation

Ferry travel can be a challenge for disabled people but you do have rights under EU Regulation. These rights include:

  • A ferry operator cannot refuse a booking from you because of your disability, except in very specific circumstances.
  • Port facilities must be accessible to you.
  • Ferry operators must provide assistance free of charge, if you require this, from when you arrive at the portt until you depart.

The Regulation applies to all jourmeys within the EU.

The Consumer Council

The Consumer Council is the body in Northern Ireland responsible for handling complaints about ferry travel including accessibility issues. They have produced a guide for disabled people and people with reduced mobility called “Access to Ferry Travel.”

Visit the Consumer Council website.

Terminal and ferry accessibility

Each ferry company has information about the accessibility of their services.

Find out more about accessibility on the Irish Ferries website.

Find out more about accessibility on the  P&O website.

Find out more about accessibility on the Steam Packet Company website.

Find out more about accessibility on the  Stenaline website.

Accessibility of Northern Ireland ferries

For more information about the accessibility of the Strangford Ferry visit the NI Direct website.

To find out more about the accessibility of other services you should contact the operator directly.

Changing Places facilities

Currently no ferry operator has a Changing Places facility at a terminal or onboard the ferry.

Booking assistance

Every ferry company is required to provide you with assistance to use their services. You must give the ferry operator at least 48 hours notice if you require assistance. The best time to do this is when booking your journey. Ferry companies and travel agents should ask you about “Special Assistance” when booking.

Arrival at the port

The ferry company should provide a designated point in the terminal where you can access assistance.

Assistance with your journey

The ferry company should provide you with assistance checking in, boarding and disembarking the ferry and accessing facilities on the ferry.

Arrival at your destination

You should receive the same assistance once you arrive at your destination, right through to leaving the port.

Further Information

The Consumer Council has produced a detailed guide about the assistance you should expect when travelling by ferry.

Visit the Consumer Council website.

Discounted fares

If you have a free or half fare SmartPass you can use this on the Strangford and Rathlin Island Ferry services.

For more information about the discounts available visit the NI Direct website.