The Steam Packet has said that bike bookings are slightly up on where they were for TT2019.
With the countdown to TT22 well underway, we’re continuing our own countdown by talking to the Steam Packet about how ready it is to bring a mass influx of visitors to the island.
After a two year break, this year sees the return of the world’s greatest road races which brings several challenges for the company which transports the majority of visitors to the island.
A spokesperson for the Steam Packet told Gef: ‘Forward bookings for TT 2022 are looking strong at present. When TT 2020 and TT 2021 were cancelled due to the ongoing border restrictions surrounding Covid-19, the Company offered those booked the opportunity to transfer their bookings onto like for like sailings for the following year. We were pleased to see that the majority of race fans took up the opportunity to transfer their reservations to this year’s event. We’re really looking forward to welcoming them back to the island.
‘Looking at forward bookings from Jan 2019 v Jan 2022, we’re pleased to report that there’s an equivalent number of foot passengers, cars and vans booked for TT 2022 and there’s a 3% increase in the number of motorbikes.’
Interestingly they also said that while there be some concerns from overseas visitors about travelling this year, the company said it ‘hasn’t seen a huge number of cancellations from outside of the Common Travel Area for TT 2022’.
Since the island’s borders first closed, there has been a series of measures and systems in place to firstly limit the number of visitors and then more recently to keep better records on who is arriving through the use of Landing Cards.
While the Steam Packet said the use of landing cards during the TT would be ‘not ideal’, the spokesperson said the company ‘fully appreciate[s] the necessity for the current landing form requirements and providing that the process continues to be as streamline as it has been since border restrictions lifted for visitors in June last year, there’s no reason why it should affect the Company’s day to day operations during TT 2022’.
They added: ‘Once it’s safe to do so, we’re looking forward to Government imposed border restrictions fully lifting.’
With or Without a Mask, arguably U2’s worst ever song, but also a key question for people travelling on board the Steam Packet. While many of us have grown used to wearing them on-board planes, use on the ferries have been somewhat up and down depending on the Covid threat level at the time.
The company told Gef that throughout the pandemic it has ‘followed government guidance and mandatory requirements regarding Covid-19 safety for both crew and passengers and that will continue’. They added: ‘It is currently an Isle of Man Government mandatory requirement for masks or face coverings to be worn whilst sailing with us*. Should that requirement remain in place during the TT, then we’ll continue to ask our passengers to play their part in keeping their fellow passengers and our crew safe when they travel with us. On board our vessels and at our ports, we will continue to take precautionary measures to prevent any spread of Covid-19 through our ongoing and increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.
* correct at the time of interview.
While the Steam Packet saw an increase in people travelling during summer 2021 and over the recent Christmas, even its most steadfast defender has to admit that TT22 will be something completely different and will mark the first time in over two years it will be tested in such a way. But, the company’s spokesperson told Gef that they are more than ready for the big rush.
They said: ‘We have a strong contingent of permanent staff members who work for the company year-round. We also have a bank of new and returning seasonal staff that we’ll have in place ahead of TT. We’re confident that we’ll be fully crewed afloat and ashore for the fortnight.’
And while the Ben-my-Chree will be the company’s flagship this year, her role at the top of the billing is due to come to and end as the new Manxman is due to enter service in time for next year’s TT.
The company said this was an ‘extremely exciting time for the company and we can’t wait to be able to welcome passengers on board her’.
We want to speak to as wide an array of businesses, groups, volunteers and riders involved in the TT as possible during our countdown series, if you want to take part, drop us an email at email@example.com.