Strangford and Portaferry operate as unmanned ports. Loading of vehicles and boarding of passengers from the public road is directed by the on-board crew.
No ferry personnel are present at the slipway between sailings and there is no check-in sailing facility.
A parking bay for the use of people with a disability is located in Portaferry outside No 11 The Strand, just opposite the slipway. There is limited free on-street parking in Portaferry.
There is no parking bay specifically for the use of people with a disability at Strangford. There is limited free parking available off-street at Strangford.
The Strangford ferry service operates two vehicle ferries:
- MV Portaferry II
- MV Strangford II
Vehicles and foot passengers board the ferries using the harbour slipway and a sloping vehicle ramp. There are no steps or gates to negotiate.
The gradient of the ridged slipway is one in seven with no handrail. While every effort is made to keep the slipways clean and non-slip, passengers with reduced mobility may need help. There is a step up of around 30mm where the vessel ramp meets the slipway.
The gradient of the vessel ramp varies to a maximum of one in six, depending on the tide. The ramp has a non-slip finish and a handrail. Wheelchair users can board the ferry using the vehicle area of the vessel ramp.
On the MV Portaferry II the door into the passenger accommodation is 840mm wide with a 40mm threshold; on the MV Strangford II the door is 800mm wide with a 160mm threshold. A ramp is available for wheelchair users to access the passenger accommodation on the MV Strangford II.
The upper passenger decks on each vehicle ferry are only accessible by using steep narrow ladders and, as such, may not be accessible for passengers with reduced mobility.
On the MV Portaferry II the vehicle lanes are 1.8m wide with a 0.56m space between lanes.
On the MV Strangford II there are two 1.8m wide lanes and one 2.5m wide lane, with a 0.75m space between lanes.
Facilities for people with a disability or reduced mobility
There is no need to contact the Strangford ferry service beforehand to ask for access help.
Designated meeting points
Clearly-signed designated meeting points for foot passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility are located at the top of the slipways in Strangford and Portaferry. The ferry crew monitor these locations during the ferry approach and loading.
Help provided for passengers
The following help will be provided when asked for from the crew of the vessel:
- the crew will help foot passengers to get on and get off the vessel
- the crew will help owners of recognised assistance dogs
There is limited space on the vehicle ferry and this, together with a short crossing time, means that the crew cannot normally help passengers to, for example, move out of a vehicle into a wheelchair.
The crew will, however, if asked before the start of vehicle loading, provide parking on the ferry to more easily make possible temporary exit of the vehicle.
Before each sailing the following safety information is announced over the vessel public announcement system:
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Strangford Lough ferry service. Please listen carefully to this safety announcement. Emergency instructions are displayed in the passenger accommodation and on deck. Please read them carefully. Thank you".
The following safety information is on display in the passenger accommodation and on deck:
'In the event of an emergency you will be informed by means of an announcement or a signal consisting of seven short blasts and one prolonged blast on the ship’s whistle.
'In the event of the ship having to be abandoned, you will be instructed when to enter the life rafts. The ship is equipped with personal life-jackets, inflatable life rafts and lifebuoys. The crew will assist passengers according to the respective life-saving equipment.
'For safety reasons passengers are requested to keep clear of the car deck while the ferry is loading/ unloading traffic'.
If you have hearing loss and would like to be alerted to emergency announcements or signals, let a crew member know.
A full copy of these conditions can be seen in the window of the Strangford ferry terminal office.