Which? Legal

Get advice on ferry cancellations

If you failed to sail, you can get affordable advice from Which? Legal on what you might be able to do.

Ferry delay compensation

You’re entitled to compensation of 25% of the ticket price for the affected part of your journey, if you’re delayed for at least:

  • one hour for a journey of up to four hours
  • two hours for a journey of between four and eight hours
  • three hours for a journey of between eight and 24 hours
  • six hours for a journey of more than 24 hours

If the delay is more than double the times set out above, your compensation will be 50% of the ticket price.

The ferry operator must pay compensation within one month of submission of your claim.

Ferry companies don’t have to pay compensation if the delay was caused by:

  • weather conditions endangering the safe operation of the ship
  • extraordinary and unavoidable circumstances that hindered the sailing.

Consumer Rights Act travel amendments

If you’re paying to travel by ferry you’re purchasing a service, and it must be provided with reasonable care and skill.

If the service you’ve received falls way below the standard you’d expect, you might be entitled to claim a full or partial refund. You can also claim for consequential losses.

Use our guide to claim a refund or compensation for a ferry journey that's been provided without reasonable care and skill.

Ferry cancellation rights

If your ferry service is cancelled or departure is delayed for more than 90 minutes, you should be offered the choice between:

  • an alternative sailing at the earliest opportunity at no additional cost
  • reimbursement of the ticket price within seven days.

If you opt for an alternative crossing, you're still entitled to claim compensation for the delay to your original journey.

While you wait

Meals and refreshments

If your ferry journey is expected to be cancelled or delayed for more than 90 minutes, you should be given free snacks, meals and refreshments - even if the reason for the cancellation or delay is bad weather.

But you can only expect these to be provided if they’re available or can reasonably be supplied.

Overnight accommodation

If your journey is delayed or cancelled and an overnight stay becomes necessary, the ferry or cruise operator must offer you accommodation free of charge, if possible. This can be on board the ship or ashore.

Your ferry company is also allowed to look at other options, like allowing you to make your own separate plans to travel and reimburse your expenses.

But no overnight accommodation has to be offered or costs reimbursed if the delay is caused by weather conditions endangering the safe operation of the ship.

What if your claim is rejected?

If you believe the ferry company has not acted in accordance with the obligations detailed above, you should:

  1. Write to the company detailing your concerns within two months of the delay.
  2. The ferry company should respond within one month of receipt of your complaint saying whether your complaint has been accepted, rejected or is still being considered.
  3. The ferry company should provide you with a final reply within two months of receipt of your initial complaint.

If the ferry company doesn't respond or you're unable to resolve your complaint, you can contact Abta, the Travel Association which is the official complaint handling body.

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