6 April 2023

Your ferry rights this Easter

We explain your rights when it comes to ferry cancellations, delays, and how to claim compensation.

After months of cancellations to both Interislander and Bluebridge services caused by mechanical issues, staff shortages and bad weather, another bout of disruptions has hit just in time for Easter and the school holidays.

Image of a ferry

The Bluebridge Strait Feronia ferry has been awash with cancellations this week because of “an ongoing engineering issue.”

Bluebridge said that “due to limited space in coming weeks, the only option available to passengers travelling with vehicles is a full refund. We are unable to offer standby bookings at this time.”

While you’ll get the ticket price back, what about the accommodation you’ve booked and paid for? We take you through your rights if your sailing is disrupted during these holidays.

Ferry cancellations rights

My ferry was cancelled due to mechanical issues. What are my rights?

If your sailing is cancelled due to mechanical issues, you might be offered:

  • a refund; or
  • an alternative ferry sailing.

Reimbursement for additional costs

Interislander’s and Bluebridge’s terms and conditions state they aren’t liable for any loss suffered by passengers when their ferries are cancelled or delayed due to mechanical failure.

They’re attempting to avoid paying up for any additional costs you incur due to a cancellation or delay due to mechanical failure.

How this relates to the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA): unless the operator can prove the failure was entirely beyond human control – which we think is unlikely – you’re entitled to a refund and compensation. Under the CGA, you’re within your rights to claim a refund and compensation for foreseeable losses that result from the failure, such as finding alternative accommodation or transport.

My sailing is cancelled (or substantially delayed) because of bad weather. Can I get a refund?

You’re not covered by the CGA when your sailing is cancelled or delayed due to bad weather because it’s out of the operator’s control.

Refunds, rebookings, or credits will depend on the individual ferry operators:

In our opinion, if your ferry is cancelled, you should be able to request a refund if another sailing doesn’t suit you.

Ferry claims

How do I make a compensation claim?

  • Contact the ferry company and ask for a refund and reimbursement for any other reasonably foreseeable costs.
  • Keep receipts of additional expenses incurred from your cancellation or delay, for example, accommodation. You’ll need these receipts for your claim.

The ferry operator has refused my claim. What are my rights?

You can file a claim under section 32 of the CGA at the Disputes Tribunal. Section 32 outlines the options consumers have when services don't comply with guarantees and sets out the right to claim for other reasonably foreseeable costs, like accommodation.

In your claim, we recommend you reference these sections of the CGA:

  • The guarantee to reasonable care and skill (section 28).
  • The guarantee as to fitness for particular purpose (section 29).

These sections contain the guarantees you should claim have been breached by the operator.

We also recommend referring to “Late Departures: Consumers’ Rights Under the Consumer Guarantees Act” by Kate Tokeley. You can attach it as additional documentation to support your claim.

Consumer advice line.

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