Corona measures force Wagenborg Passenger Services to introduce mandatory reservations (Press release)
In the coming period, the Wadden Islands can once again expect to welcome an increasing number of tourists. As a result of the corona measures imposed, Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten (WPD) can only accept a maximum of 40% of the normal number of passengers on their ferries, fast ferries and water taxis from 1 June onwards. Until that date, passenger numbers are limited to a 1/3 of the normal maximum capacity. The shipping company wants to keep the islands accessible, regardless of the difficult conditions. Consequently, the company is forced to switch to require the pre-booking of boat tickets for islanders, commuters, tourists, day trippers and other passengers.
Currently, only passengers of the fast ferry and water taxi and vehicles with passengers on the regular ferry had to make reservations. WPD wants to avoid passengers being disappointed and being turned back because ferries are full. At the same time, the shipping company wants to ensure that passengers can travel safely and that there is sufficient space on the ferries to and from the Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. This is not possible with the old method because of the corona measures. The decision to introduce mandatory reservations for all passengers is a measure that WPD would not have taken under normal circumstances.
Impact on islanders and regular passengers
When the reservation system is operational, this means: ‘A reservation guarantees a place on board.’ This applies to both outgoing and return journeys. “This is at odds with our philosophy of the past 100 years, ensuring free travel to and from Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. Everyone was accustomed to the freedom to simply hop on the ferry whenever they wanted. We are well aware that this change has a major impact on the islanders, regular passengers and tourists. But to keep the demand for mobility to the islands manageable and safe, the current measures leave us with no other option,” says director Ger van Langen.
“Nobody wants to stand in line to then hear that the ferry is full. We have noticed that passengers want to secure a seat on board, simply because there is less space. In the coming weeks, we will make adjustments to our booking system and inform our passengers, including islanders and commuters, about what the booking process will look like. We expect the system to be operational early June," says van Langen.
Adjustments to the timetable
Due to the current corona measures, the capacity per crossing is significantly reduced. WPD makes every effort to meet the transport needs. Van Langen: “This means that we will be sailing as much and as often as necessary, with extra departures on top of the regular timetable. The accessibility of the islands is essential to us." WPD is counting on the understanding of passengers in light of the current circumstances and advises passengers to regularly check the website for the latest overview of scheduled departures.