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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 16 November, 2019
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Passengers disembark ferry as injured crewman hospitalised

Passengers who do not have accommodation are now being looked after by the French Red Cross.

THE PASSENGERS ON an Irish Ferries ship who were at sea for 48 hours due to bad weather conditions, only to discover the ferry had a broken bow door, have finally disembarked.

Irish Ferries confirmed that passengers have been able to disembark the Oscar Wilde ship, which left Rosslare on Sunday evening.

A crewman who was injured during the sailing has been taken to hospital. Sailing tonight from Cherbourg to Rosslare has been cancelled, as has sailing tomorrow from Rosslare to Cherbourg.

Hotels in Cherbourg are fully booked, so the French Red Cross is now looking after passengers who do not have accommodation.

On board waiting to disembark at Cherbourg. Pic: Marian Hughes

Cork woman Marian Hughes, who is travelling alongside her husband Joe Hughes on the Oscar Wilde ship, told TheJournal.ie that those on board had packed their bags on three occasions when the ship was meant to dock – but each time the attempt proved unsuccessful.

“Three times we’ve been gathered below with our bags already ready to get off, once last night and twice today,” she described, only to have the captain tell them they wouldn’t be docking.

“When we docked we were thrilled – [only] then to be told they were having a slight problem with the hull door,” she continued.

“We docked after 3pm, but we’re all on the boat still,” said Hughes, who described the staff as “fantastic” during the trip. The passengers were told that though they were due in at 2pm yesterday, they had to go off course because of the weather.

Pic: Marian Hughes

They were then told they would be docked at 6pm, which was pushed back to 8pm, before being given the news that they would have to stay the night on the ship.

Passengers were given complimentary food and drink, and were able to use their cabins for a second night free of charge. “The captain would come on every now and then to update us,” said Hughes. Despite the uncertainty and the multiple attempts to dock, the mood on board has been good, with “some fun and banter”, she said.

We made two attempts to dock around 11pm but it was unsafe to do so. The captain announced this morning he made three attempts during the night to dock but they were unsuccessful. There was bad snow, it was windy and very foggy.

Passengers had to cancel hotel bookings and rebook accommodation, and with the roads around Cherbourg bad, Hughes said she and her husband weren’t sure if they would make it to Paris on time for a coach journey tomorrow afternoon.

An Irish Ferries spokesperson said that the crossing was five hours late arriving at Cherbourg, and the passengers were then forced to spend almost another 24 hours on board the ship because of the heavy weather at the port that made it impossible for the ship to dock.

“It was very, very heavy weather – we just couldn’t get in at all, so we had to sit outside the port,” he said.

Just after lunch today we succeeded in getting in and we tied up the ship and we secured it and everything was fine. But we’ve had a technical difficulty opening the bow door so we can let everybody off.

All passengers have now disembarked.

Read: Ferry passengers left at sea after minor collision in Rosslare >

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