FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Our FAQs

Read some of our helpful FAQs below. If you have any additional questions don’t hesitate to get in touch on 02820769299 or at info@rathlinballycastleferry.com

***PLEASE NOTE FAQ’S HAVE NOT BEEN UPDATED DURING COVID****

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  • £12 per adult return
  • £6 per child return (5-15) under 5’s free
  • £32 family day return (2 adult + 2 child 5-15)
  • NI smartpass/bus pass travel free with valid smartpass – 60+ (orange/brown) & 65+ (blue/green)
  • Republic of Ireland smartpass £10.00 with valid smartpass (purple)

We sell a family ticket for ferry travel only for 2 adults and 2 children (5-15) which is £32 for a day return, saving £4. 

We offer a concession fare for ROI seniors for £10 return with a valid smartpass (purple in colour).  NI bus pass holders travel free with a valid smartpass (blue or brown in colour).

You can book ferry travel either by:

  • Phone – 02820769299
  • Email – info@rathlinballycastleferry.com
  • In person – Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd, 18 Bayview Road, Ballycastle, BT546BT

Please note that if booking in person, by phone, by email then we require a lead name, the number of passengers, a contact phone number and the outward and return sailing times preferred. For bookings made in person, by phone or email card details are required to secure the booking and payment is taken on day of travel.  If you do not cancel or amend the booking before 4.30pm the day before your travel then you are still charged as it is too late for us to resell seats.

 


In order to complete a booking online the travel must not be within 24 hours of the required sailing time . 

You can now book smart pass tickets online, however to avail of free travel you must present your smartpass at the time of travel. You cannot book bicycles online as we have limited space on both ferries. If you are making a booking online and would like to book bicycles then you can add this information in the notes section of the online booking form or contact the booking office direct by phone, email or in person to add bikes to your booking. An online booking is only complete once you receive your booking confirmation by email. If you do not receive the confirmation email please contact the booking office to confirm if we have received your booking and if it has been successful.

We recommend booking your space on the ferry at least 1 day before to ensure travel on the preferred day and sailing. There may be availability for sailings the day before travel, however this may be limited.  Booking may also be possible on the day you want to travel if spaces are still available and should be done by phone or in person in the Booking Office at least 30 minutes before departure.

Passengers are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before departure to check in at the ferry and board for the safety announcements. 

The Booking Office and Terminal is closed to the public and we are operating contactless ticketing. Please proceed to your pre-booked ferry and check in at the vessel using the name the booking is booked under.

If you are unable to travel on a pre-booked sailing you must cancel or amend 48 hours before travel to get a refund.

You can cancel your booking by contacting the Booking Office by phone, email or in person. We appreciate as much notice as possible so that spaces can be offered to other passengers. You must cancel 48 hours before travel to receive a refund.

Yes dogs are welcome and travel free but please note that they must remain on a lead at all times whilst on board the ferry and on Rathlin Island. Passengers with dogs other than guide dogs may be asked to travel on the outer deck.

Yes you can bring your own bikes on the ferry.  Tickets are £3.30 return for each bike, this includes children’s bikes. Folding bikes are carried free provided they are folded. Please note that we can only carry a small number of bikes as space is restricted so booking is advisable.

You can book bike carriage by phone, email or in person in the Booking Office.

Please note that the Rathlin Island Cycle Hire is seasonal and they no longer accept walk ins and bike hire must be pre-booked in advance.

PLEASE NOTE WE ARE OPERATING  REDUCED CAPACITY ON ALL SAILINGS DUE TO SOCIAL DISTANCING.

The Rathlin Express (RE) cam carry 97 passengers during summer months and 38 passengers during winter months. The Spirit of Rathlin (SOR) can carry 140 passengers during Summer months and 42 passengers during Winter months. The skipper may limit passengers numbers if sea conditions are unsuitable for maximum capacity.

Yes babies and children under 5 can travel free on all sailings.  Although they travel free a space must be reserved.

Please note that the skipper may advise against travel with small children if sea conditions are unsuitable.

Passengers are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before departure to board the ferry for the safety announcements. It is very important that you do not miss your return sailing from Rathlin to Ballycastle as during peak times many sailings can be fully booked and there may be no availability on other sailings. Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd are not responsible for any costs incurred by passengers who miss their ferry.

Passengers are required to book both the outgoing and return journey for day trips and overnight stays. This is to ensure there is availability and to guarantee return travel. If passengers arrive for an earlier sailing to Rathlin or from Rathlin then they will be asked to wait until all pre-booked passengers have boarded and if space is available they can be transferred

We accept sterling pound and most cards. We do not offer cash-back. Please note that we do not accept American Express.

There is an ATM several minutes walk away on the outside wall of the Spar supermarket and they also offer cash-back on card transactions.

Please note that there are no longer ATM facilities on the island and only some businesses accept card payment. It is advisable to bring cash to Rathlin and it may be beneficial to use your card when possible to avoid any inconvenience should you be unable to access cash during your visit.

If there are any disruptions or cancellations then we will contact anyone booked to advise them. This is why it is important that we have a contact number when making a booking. We also put travel updates on our website and Facebook page and we inform the local radio stations.

A free public car park at the ferry terminal is available for ferry passengers. There are also 2 other free public car parks at the seafront and harbour and a free public car park at Sheskburn House, across from Ballycastle Tennis Courts, a 5 minute walk away. There is another free car park at Ballycastle Playing Fields, Quay Road, a 10 minute walk away and a pay and display car park beside Ballycastle Bus Station, Ann Street, a 15 minute walk away.

There are also 2 free car parks on Fairhill Street, a 20 minute walk away and another free car park is located on Castle Street behind the Maxol Service Station on Castle Street and this is a 25 minute walk to the harbour. Please note that parking for ferry passengers is limited near the terminal at peak times so you are advised to allow plenty of time to find a space nearby or at Sheskburn House.

If you do not arrive to collect ferry tickets from the Booking Office 15 minutes before your departure you may lose your pre-booked spaces as they will be offered to anyone on stand-by. Due to quick turn-around times for all sailings it is not possible for any sailings to wait past their scheduled departure time if you are late for any reason.

Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd operates 2 ferries between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle.
The Spirit of Rathlin (SOR) is a 105T cargo and passenger ferry and can carry 140 passengers during summer months and 40 passengers during winter months. In summer months there is uncovered seating on the upper deck, covered with side opening seating on the middle deck and indoor seating on the lower deck. In winter months the upper decks are closed to passengers. You are not permitted on the cargo deck of the ferry during any sailing and vehicle passengers must exit the vehicle during the crossing. There is capacity for vehicles but restrictions apply.
See How can I book my vehicle on the ferry?

The SOR can carry post, deliveries and large items but restrictions apply and are at the crews discretion. There is limited space for luggage, bicycles, prams and wheelchairs and you are advised to inform Booking clerks of these when booking ferry travel. The SOR departs from Ballycastle from the slipway at Ballycastle Harbour and departs from Rathlin from Pier 2. Boarding the SOR in Ballycastle is from Gate 1 and in Rathlin is from the slipway at Pier 2. Boarding will commence when crew advises.

The Rathlin Express (RE) is a 30T, passenger only ferry and can carry 97 passengers during summer months and 38 passengers during winter months. In summer months there is uncovered seating on the upper deck and covered with side opening and indoor seating on the lower deck. There is no capacity for large items and restricted space for luggage, bicycles, prams and wheelchairs. You are advised to inform Booking Clerk of these when booking ferry travel. The RE departs from Ballycastle from the pontoon on the pier and departs from Rathlin from Pier 1. Boarding the RE in Ballycastle is from Gate 2 and in Rathlin is from the pontoon at Pier 1. Boarding will commence when crew advises.

You can book your outward crossing on one ferry and your return crossing on the other ferry or you can book one ferry for both crossings. You are required to book both your outward and return sailings at time of booking to ensure availability on both crossings. If you wish to change either of your pre-booked sailing times before you travel then you can contact the Booking Office for availability. If you wish to change your return sailing from Rathlin once you are there then please contact the Booking Office to check availability before your booked sailing departs. Please note that at peak times it may not be possible to change your sailing due to limited availability.

The Spirit of Rathlin (SOR) has three toilets on the lower deck, one of which has disabled access. There is one toilet on the middle deck and there are no toilet facilities on the upper deck.  There are timetables, Rathlin Walks brochures and convenience bags on the lower deck.

The Rathlin Express (RE) has one toilet on the lower deck with disabled access. There are no toilet facilities on the upper deck. There are no drink or snack facilities but you are welcome to bring your own and consume onboard. There are timetables, Rathlin Walks brochures and convenience bags on the lower level.

If you need help or assistance while on either ferry please ask a crew member who will be happy to assist.

RIFL have introduced new Covid 19 safety guidelines in line with Governemnt advice.  Anyone aged over 13 is required to wear a face covering on the ferry unless they are exempt and all passengers will be required to use hand sanitiser when boarding the vessel.

You are required to board the ferry for the safety announcement and it is recommended to listen to the safety announcement in case of an emergency and note where the emergency exits are. All crew have first aid training and should you need help or attention during the sailing please alert a member of crew. Crew are clearly visible in navy uniforms with RIFL logo on the front and CREW on the backs of their uniforms. They may also wear high visibility waistcoats or jackets.

You are asked to be cautious while on the ferry and take special care when moving around the vessel as there are some hazards and certain areas can be slippy. The sea can be bumpy and therefore you are asked to remain seated or hold the handrail if standing, walking around or using stairs to avoid accident or injury. Children and pets are passengers responsibility and should be monitored at all times and not left unattended. If you feel ill or unwell or need assistance while on the ferry then please ask a crew member who will be happy to assist.

For details of what there is to see and do and where you can stay and eat while on Rathlin please find visitor information here https://rathlinballycastleferry.com/rathlin-island-local-businesses/

or www.rathlincommunity.org

There are several picnic tables located on Rathlin at scenic locations, details of these are available by contacting the Boathouse Visitor Centre and Museum or Ballycastle TIC 02820762024. Please use the bins provided and keep the island rubbish free.

Rathlin has seasonal cycle hire and booking is now essential before arrival. They no longer accept walk ins so book to avoid disappointment. Contact Soerneog View Hostel and Cycle Hire on 02820763954 for prices and availability.

There are seasonal guided walking tours on Rathlin operated by Nine Glens Walking Tours – 07723 921022 and Rathlin Walking Tours – 07745566924. Enquiries and bookings should be made directly with the guides on the above contact numbers. Some of the tours are available to book via Ballycastle Tourist Information – 02820762024. There are also food tours available on Rathlin by Irish Feast who incorporate walking, history and locally sourced quality produce. Contact Phone 07718276612 email caroline@irishfeast.com.

There are seasonal bus tours on Rathlin and these operate from the Harbour and drop off at the RSPB West Light Seabird Centre and return to the Harbour again. The tour includes local history and information about Rathlin including the well known myths and legends and the bus driver points out unique areas of Rathlin. Charges apply for bus tours and are operated by independent companies. Contact  07740586898 or 07759935192 for further information

The RSPB West Light Seabird Centre and Lighthouse is open from late March/April -September. The Atlantic puffins, razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, gannets and seagulls gather at the RSPB West Light Seabird Centre cliffs around April/May and will mate and nest until July/August when they will all take to the sea with their young until next year. For details of opening times and contact details see https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/rathlin-island

The seals are resident on Rathlin Island so they are always there and they are used to visitors. If you do get too close they will probably disappear into the sea so keep a safe distance so as not to frighten them, especially if there are seal pups. You can see the seals around the harbour and in Mill Bay which is a 5-10 minute walk from the harbour.

There are several places to stay, eat and drink while on a visit to Rathlin Island. Details can be found here https://rathlinballycastleferry.com/rathlin-island-local-businesses/

Please note that it is advisable to book accommodation before you arrive on Rathlin as availability can be limited due to the popularity of Rathlin for overnight stays. It is also recommended to book lunch/dinner in advance as during peak times availability could be limited. If you prefer you can bring a picnic or your own food and drink to ensure you are not relying on the island facilities when they are limited if you are restricted for time due to a return sailing from Rathlin to Ballycastle.

Ballycastle and the surrounding area offers plenty to see and do if you are visiting for a day or staying a bit longer. Attractions include Ballycastle Museum, Bonamargy Friary, Ballycastle Beach and Seafront and much more with many other attractions to visit and things to do in the surrounding villages. 

Ballycastle has many great tour guides who offer bespoke walking and coach tours for individuals and small groups. For further information or any enquiries about Ballycastle and the surrounding area contact Ballycastle Tourist Information Centre – Phone 02820762024 Email – ballycastlevic@causewaycoastand glens.gov.uk.

Ballycastle has a fabulous range of independent restaurants, coffee shops, boutique stores, B&B’s, Guest Houses and much more and there is no shortage of great pub’s with some serving food as well as great whiskey’s, gin’s and craft beers. Most will also have live music including traditional music and live bands. For further information or any enquiries about Ballycastle and the surrounding area contact Ballycastle Tourist Information Centre – Phone 02820762024 Email – ballycastlevic@causewaycoastand glens.gov.uk.