Ferry Tickets and Crossings - UK Ferries to Europe
Travelling by boat or ferry can be a mixed pleasure - while bad weather and choppy sea waves can sometimes make the whole experience a rather uncomfortable one, the sense of journeying, of really getting somewhere, is second to none, and certainly not something that you can experience on a plane.
In the following pages, we have collected pretty much everything you need to know about ferries. Where there isn't room to include absolutely everything - such as detailed timetables - we've given you the means to find out. You may decide that ferry travel is not, in your specific case, what you need. But you will be able to make an informed decision. There are also tips on what to think about when booking a ferry, and how to do it cheaply.
The cross channel routes, such as Dover to Calais, have always been popular, but there are also ferries from further north in the UK to northern Europe, such as Newcastle to Bergen and Harwich to Esbjerg. There are ferries to the British islands, such as the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. And there are ferries across the Irish Sea to various points in northern Ireland and Eire. But ferry routes are constantly changing as companies struggle to keep up with budget flights and the Channel, so it is important to keep up to date with what's available.
Some of the major ferry/fast ferry companies operating across the channel are Brittany (www.brittany-ferries.co.uk), Condor (www.condor-ferries.co.uk), Hoverspeed (www.hoverspeed.com) and SeaFrance (www.seafrance.com). There's also Speedferries (www.speedferries.com), Transmanche (www.transmancheferries.com) and Superfast (www.superfast.com). Elsewhere there's Isle of Wight link (www.wightlink.co.uk) and Irish Ferries (www.irishferries.com). Larger companies such as P&O and Stena have a variety of crossings (www.stenaline.co.uk, www.poferries.com, www.poirishsea.com). For a quick overview of some of the routes available, try this link.
Tips for ferry travel:
Decide what kind of ferry you want - some companies do no-frills overnighters while on others the service is more like a luxury mini-cruise - and where from. You may be hanging around the port for a while, so it pays to pick somewhere nice if you have the choice.
If you have to stay overnight in a hotel for a cross-Channel trip, do it on the French side if possible where hotels are cheaper. If you're driving on from the port, bear in mind petrol costs when choosing your destination.
One of the main advantages of ferries is how cheap they can be, so make sure you're aware of the deals. Look online, or ask searching questions when you call - they may not mention everything at once.
Book ahead. Not only is it cheaper, but you will have more choice of seats and times. There may be a surcharge for same day travel.
Check whether it's cheaper out of high season, and whether there are reductions for children or other groups. Also check whether it's cheaper to travel in the week.
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