Close to the English mainland, The Isle of Man resides in the Irish Sea. It is fairly small at 33 by 13 miles but none the less, 40 per cent of the island is uninhabited. As with many islands of this size, visitors will enjoy a very quite and relaxed atmosphere. Interestingly, this island is an autonomous region with its own laws and parliament.
The capital, Douglas is where you will find the main ferry port, which serves nearly all the ferry traffic to and from the island. This port has been the focus of maritime activity since the island was settled on, but it has recently been rebuilt and modernised and is now equipped with good facilities geared towards the weary traveller. There is a restaurant and food vending machines here as well as car hire, telephones and washrooms. The port is not too far from the centre of Douglas, if you need some more specialised services on hand.
Since 1830, the Steam Packet Company has been providing boats and ferry services to the inhabitants of The Isle of Man. The company serves a multitude of different routes to Liverpool, Belfast, Heysham and Dublin, besides others.
In addition, the company offers more than one ferry on some of these routes, allowing you to choose between conventional, SeaCat or Super SeaCat options. The SeaCat and Super SeaCat options are quicker but may be a little more expensive. These are only available in the summer months, however.
The SeaCat ferries will reach Heysham in about two hours whilst conventional ferries take about three hours to this destination. Liverpool to the Isle of Man is less than three hours using the fastcraft, and four hours using the normal ferries. If you want to go to Dublin, set aside four hours for a conventional ferry and you can almost half that duration for using the faster option.