COVID-19: Consumer advice for sea travel at March 2020

Last updated: 20 April 2020 

In light of the latest COVID-19 travel disruption, the European Consumer Centre Ireland is looking at what rights have changed for maritime and inland waterways passengers at present. 

Maritime Passenger Rights during the COVID-19 Crisis from the National Transport Authority of Ireland, update at 20 April 2020 

EU Regulation 1177 / 2010 provides passengers with the following entitlements, which have not changed:


Information on cancellations, delays and uncertainties must be provided before and during a journey as follows: 

  • as soon as possible and not later than 30 minutes after the scheduled time of departure and before the estimated arrival time
  • before offering passengers a choice between re-routing and reimbursement

In addition, for cancellations and delays of 90+ minutes at departure, the passenger must be given a choice between:   


Re-routing to the final destination must be offered, under comparable conditions, as set out in the transport contract, at the earliest opportunity and at no additional cost.


A refund of the ticket price is due in case of 60+ minutes delays. 

Return service

A return service at no extra cost to the first point of departure, as set out in the transport contract, at the earliest opportunity.


Assistance must be provided to passengers as follows

  • Snacks, meals or refreshments, in proportion to the waiting time.
  • Accommodation for up to 3 nights, at a maximum rate of €80 per night, if overnight stays are necessary.
  • Transport to the accommodation and return to the terminal.

As a result of the Coronavirus emergency and resulting travel disruptions in Europe and globally, the following entitlements have suffered changes. 


Regulation (EU) No 1177 / 2010 above provides for certain exemptions on account of extraordinary circumstances*. Where public authorities take measures intended to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, such measures are by their nature and origin not inherent to the normal exercise of the activity of carriers and are outside their actual control.

Consequently, compensation is not due when:

  • The cancellation is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”, hindering the performance of the passenger service which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
  • Public authorities prohibit transport services or ban the movement of persons in a manner that results in the operation of the service.
  • Movement of persons is not entirely prohibited, but limited to persons benefiting from derogations (for example nationals or residents of the state concerned).
  • Where a carrier cancels a service when the vessel would be forced to travel empty.
  • Where the carrier decides to cancel a transport service on grounds of protecting the health of the crew.

Please note:

  • Concrete information on disruptions and rerouting at the earliest opportunity may under the circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak imply considerable delay, uncertainty and operational problems.
  • The provisions on re-routing and reimbursement as well as compensation do not apply to cruise ships.

  • For maritime safety measures implemented in the European Union by the European Maritime Safety Agency, please read here.
  • The International Maritime Organization publishes its Coronavirus-related measures and restrictions here
  • For more details on transport and mobility measures implemented by the European Union Member States and beyond, please read here.
  • Consumer advice and information about COVID-19 related travel restrictions in relation to specific destinations and modes of transport is changing rapidly. Before you travel, read our general consumer advice here.

Contact Us 

If you are based in Ireland and encounter any difficulties with securing a refund in any of the above cases or you would like to make sure what your entitlements are, you are welcome to contact ECC Ireland via our contact page here. As part of the European Consumer Centres Network, ECC Ireland has access to multilingual, in-country teams that are able to liaise with traders on behalf of Irish consumers for these types of cancellations and not only. Click here to find out about our services and how you can submit a complaint.

The service of the European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland) remains fully operational with the exception of our call centre. At present, we advise Irish consumers to contact us by e-mail only via our contact page here: / contact-us. Our staff is collectively and individually doing their best to respond to all queries and complaints as quickly as possible, and within 5 working days. However, due to exceptionally high volumes, we cannot always guarantee this. We will keep the public informed of all relevant consumer news and the latest on Irish consumers’ rights via our website and on Twitter here: / eccireland.

See our media coverage here for more information on consumer rights affected by the Coronavirus emergency from trusted Irish press and online media sources. 

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