Northern Ireland

Storm Isha: Ferry passengers left circling in Irish Sea overnight as crashing waves cause 10-hour delay

The journey from Liverpool to Belfast left passengers stuck in frightening conditions as the boat circled at sea.

Storm Isha caused a rough night for passengers crossing from Liverpool to Belfast, with the turbulent conditions delaying arrival for several hours. PICTURE: SASHA HILL
Storm Isha caused a rough night for passengers crossing from Liverpool to Belfast, with the turbulent conditions delaying arrival for several hours. PICTURE: SASHA HILL

Ferry passengers from Liverpool to Belfast endured a turbulent night on the Irish Sea as Storm Isha left them circling for several hours amid crashing waves.

Having originally been due to arrive in Belfast at 6.30pm on Sunday, the boat instead was held up in the sea until it was safe to dock in the early hours of Monday morning.

Many on board the Stena Estrid posted footage of the “really bad” conditions they were surrounded by as the ferry rocked from the rough tides and high winds.

Passenger John Billings (41) from Ballygowan said the conditions were the worst had had ever seen but praised staff for their professionalism.

“The captain came on and made everyone aware, telling us it would be a bit sketchy and that we might not get into Belfast until the early hours of the morning. He kept us all in the loop,” he told the Irish News.

“The sea was like something you would see on TV, I’ve never seen it as bad as that.

“It’s the worst one I’ve been on in fairness. Everyone was definitely glad to get off. As I was sitting having my breakfast bap this morning there was definitely a few people walking around like they’d had a rough night.”

A Stena Line spokesperson said: “Due to adverse weather conditions caused by Storm Isha, Stena Estrid was delayed in its usual arrival time in Belfast last night. The team onboard closely monitored the weather and once it was safe to berth, the vessel arrived at the terminal at 4.35am.

“As a result, last night’s 22:30 departure of Stena Estrid to Liverpool was delayed until 08:05hrs this morning.”

There was also serious disruption for airline passengers, with air traffic control restrictions in place across the UK and Ireland.

This included Jennifer Opal who was board a flight from Heathrow to Belfast City Airport on Sunday night, with her flight eventually diverted to Manchester.

“We got above the city and the captain couldn’t land the plane. The winds are scary, I literally cried,” she said.

The BBC reporter Holly Hamilton was also on the flight and posted online about her “pretty terrifying attempt” to land in Belfast.

Passengers on a Ryanair flight from Newquay in Cornwall to Dublin also described being on the runway for three hours on Sunday as the wind battered the plane.

The passengers, on the 3.40pm flight, were told at one point an attempt was made to take off but that the wind direction had changed so they were not able to do so. No food or drink was offered to the passengers.

They finally disembarked around 6.30pm after the pilot announced the crew had gone over the legal number of hours they were allowed to work.

But the passengers said there was no Ryanair staff in the airport to provide information on when they might be able to get another flight. Many left to find hotel rooms in the Cornish town.

The Ryanair plane eventually left Newquay at 8am on Monday but some of the passengers were not informed this was happening, receiving an email late on Sunday without any explicit mention of this flight.

In a statement, Ryanair said: “”Due to Storm Isha, some flights to/from the UK and Ireland yesterday (Sun, 21 Jan) and today (Mon, 22 Jan) have regrettably been cancelled/delayed.

“We are working hard to reaccommodate affected passengers and advise all passengers due to travel to/from the UK or Ireland today (Mon, 22 Jan) to check their Ryanair app for the latest updates on their flight.”