Who makes the decision on when to cancel and how early can the decision be made?
The decision on whether to sail or not lies solely with the Master of the vessel, whose right to cancel sailings based on his professional judgement is enshrined in maritime law. In simple terms this states that he or she cannot be compelled to sail for any reason - including commercial considerations - by anyone.
The timing of the decision to cancel or delay is as variable as the weather. Some people would prefer us to cancel only when the possibility of sailing has been completely ruled out. Others would prefer notice so they can make alternative arrangements. A simple option would be to cancel all sailings as soon as bad weather hits, but we recognise that there is an expectation that we keep our options open in case the weather relents. Weather can also be very localised, so even when there is widespread disruption, some routes may be unaffected.
We believe the current approach whereby we advise customers of possible disruption through our online "traffic lights" system or smartphone app, or text service is the best one. We also have specific arrangements in place to ensure hauliers who are transporting essential, and sometimes perishable, goods are kept appraised of forthcoming weather issues.