The Steam Packet Company says an update on its plans to resume sailings between the Isle of Man and the UK will be given later today (27 Dec).
Flagship vessel Ben my Chree is out of action after a serious problem with its steering equipment was discovered this morning.
As a result, Saturday's sailings to and from Birkenhead have been cancelled.
The specialist manufacturer is being called in, but the company has no emergency cover over Christmas and it could be some time before the fault is diagnosed and repaired.
In the meantime, the freighter Arrow will be brought into service along with fast craft Manannan for passenger traffic.
The breakdown is a serious headache for the Steam Packet, which is already fully booked on most sailings up to new year.
It is unclear at this stage how quickly Manannan can be released from her winter overhaul to ply the route - and fast craft sailings are more weather-dependent than traditional ferries'.
Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward has apologised to passengers, acknowledging the problem has arisen at one of the busiest times of the year.
He says the steering fault is a critical safety issue which in-house engineers are unlikely to be able to repair: