Dogs are very much a part of the family so it’s not unexpected that so many people are keen to take their pups with them on new adventures. You might be surprised at just how easy and comfortable it is to travel with your dog by ferry, with dedicated pet lounges and zones on board, pet cabins, kennels and the option for your dog to stay in your own vehicle.
Now we’re heading into autumn it’s cooler and beach restrictions for dogs are being lifted, it’s the paw-fect time to travel with your furry friend. We’ve partnered with The Kennel Club to offer travel advice to dog owners and to identify the essential items to pack for your pooch, and you won’t need to limit the amount of liquids in your paw luggage – so no problems taking plenty of water, medicines, or pet shampoo. We’ve also highlighted some of the wonderful dog-friendly destiniations across the UK, British Islands, Ireland and Europe that are only a ferry journey away.
Going on holiday with your dog offers a great opportunity for a fun and active escape. Take the ferry to visit bucket-list destinations and your four-legged friend will travel in safety and comfort. Depending on the ship, they can either stay with you in a dedicated area, or in a pet-friendly cabin, stay in your vehicle or in the onboard kennels. To find out more about which pet facilities each operator offers please go to our ferry operator pet policies. In our recent research with The Kennel Club, dog owners told us that when selecting a holiday they look for good walking routes, dog friendly beaches and cafes and pubs, so to get tails wagging we’ve put together our guide to the top dog-friendly destinations you can reach by ferry.
Guernsey and Jersey are known for their breathtaking beaches and outdoor lifestyle.
Greve de Lecq, on Jersey’s north coast is a small, sheltered beach with rock pools to sniff and a cave to explore. Head to the Priory Inn at Devil’s Hole after the walk where dogs are welcome in the bar and outside in the beer garden. On Jersey, four-legged friends can charge around the beaches freely from October to April. From 1 May-30 September they must be on a lead between 1030-1800.
On Guernsey most beaches are available for walkies all year round with only a few having restrictions between 1 May and 30 September. However, if you want to combine seeing a bit of the islands’ history with stunning views, the Bordeaux coastal walk is a good option. Providing sweeping views of Alderney, Sark and Herm, the popular walk from Castle Street in Bordeaux takes in the 600-year-old Vale Castle, Bordeaux’s natural harbour and the Neolithic burial mound of Dehus Dolmen.
Sail to Jersey and Guernsey with Condor Ferries from Poole or Portsmouth.
If you’re looking for an escape with picture-postcard villages, delicious cuisine, and a rich history, as well as plenty of outside activities that you can enjoy with your dog, then Normandy is the place for you.
From cliff-top walks along the Alabaster Coast to scampering in the sands of the Pearl Coast, Normandy provides ample space for your furry friend to run around and explore. Normandy’s beaches usually welcome dogs between October and the end of May.
History, culture and coffee
Rouen,soak up the atmosphere by walking through the narrow, cobbled streets, past half-timbered houses. Don’t miss the beautiful gothic cathedral, the famous Great Clock (Gros-Horloge) and the historic market square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. There are plenty of street cafes where you can enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat.
Kayaking in the river Eure – bringing your pooch aboard a hired kayak will make gliding down the River Eure that much more special (and fun!).
1944 Radar Station, Douvres-la-Délivrande. Discover the bunker and the surroundings with your dog on the lead at this open-air museum that was the site of Germany’s largest radar station in the Calvados region.
Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War Museum and cultural centre. The museum is fronted by Juno Park where you’ll find part of the remains of the German defensive Atlantic Wall. Small four-legged friends can accompany you in your arms or in a bag at all times, and larger dogs on a lead can enter daily between 1300-1400.
Considered to be one of Ireland’s most spectacular road trips, the Causeway Coastal Route is a mix of rugged coastline, unique geology and beautiful beaches. There are plenty of places en route for your pooch to play, including the 7-mile beach of Benone Strand or the National Trust-protected Portstewart Strand. Dogs on a lead can also visit the Giants’ Causeway. With dog-friendly accommodation and eateries, such as The Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy and 55 Degrees North in Portrush, along the way. Keen walkers can hike the 33-mile Causeway Coastal Way and enjoy some peace with Man’s best friend. Dogs are also able to travel freely between the UK and Northern Ireland.
Looking for spectacular dog walks? You will be spoilt for choice in Waterford, with its mix of forest, mountains, coastal cliffs, and the Waterford Greenway to explore.
Dunmore East Cliff Walk, a stunning cliff linear walk starting at the picturesque fishing village of Dunmore East and following the coast all the way to Ballymacaw Cover, almost 7km away. After your walk head to pet-friendly Loko in Waterford for a bite to eat.
Mahon Falls, up in the Comeragh Mountains, this 80m waterfall is lined with sheer rock faces and has impressive views back towards the sea. Choose between a 4km 40 min walk up to the waterfall or an 11km hike along the trails. After building up an appetite the 360cookhouse in Dungarvan will be a welcome break, it even offers a menu for dogs!
With paw-some walkies such as up Goat Fell – a bucket-list worthy mountain – to one of West of Scotland’s most spectacular waterfalls – Glenashdale Falls – and around pre-historic Machrie Moor Standing Stones, the Isle of Arran gets the tail-wag of approval all-year round.
Auchrannie Resort provides a treat for your pooch on arrival and fluffy towels for muddy paws. Dog friendly bars and lounges are located around the resort.
Pup-friendly The Drift Inn has a cosy fire to curl up next to for cooler days, and The Corrie Hotel bar has one of the best beer gardens in Britain, looking out across the Firth of Clyde.
Over a hundred miles of coast, eighteen glens and recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere, the Isle of Man is relatively undiscovered. Though world-famous for its motorcycling events, outside of these times the island is uncrowded and perfect for exploring, both on two legs and four!
Many of the beaches in the Isle of Man do not have any restrictions for dogs so they can run around and play in the sea to their hearts’ content.
The plantations and glens have a network of peaceful walking trails through woodland, countryside and parkland. Conrhenny car park is one of 26 registered Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Isle of Man, so after a later afternoon/ evening ramble in Conrhenny Plantation on a clear day budding stargazers will be rewarded with stunning views of the night sky.
For dog-friendly accommodation and facilities Visit Isle of Man runs Dogs Welcome Scheme.
This archipelago 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall is a magical choice for a holiday with your four-legged companion. These islands have spacious, white, sandy beaches and clear blue sea to play in and, as dogs are part of island life, there are many pet-friendly cafes and restaurants. The Island Dog Show happens in June and there are 10 categories to enter such as best dog /owner lookalike.
Although there are restrictions on some St Mary’s beaches from May- September, the ‘off islands’: St Martin’s, St Agnes, Bryher and Tresco are dog friendly all year round, though on Tresco dogs must be kept on a lead. The inter-island ferries happily to take dogs on board.
On St Martin’s the Karma Hotel, which won Bronze for Dog-Friendly Business of the Year in the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2019, welcomes its canine customers with VIP (Very Important Pet) treatment. Dogs get a water bowl and blanket and there is even a special menu featuring Paw-secco and steak. A pet-sitting service can also be arranged.
Sail to St Mary’s with Isles of Scilly Travel from Penzance. Dogs must be kept on a lead on board but can travel on deck with their owners.
Isle of Wight
Whether sniffing out the hidden rock pools, spotting red squirrels around the forest or watching over the family while they visit the island’s many attractions, on the Isle of Wight your furry friend never needs to be left behind.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway, named UK Heritage Railway of the Year 2023, The Needles Landmark Attraction, Shanklin Chine, Yarmouth Castle, Carisbrooke Castle and Robin Hill Country Park are just of few of the attractions that welcome pups. At the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, the Grazers Café features a dog station with fresh water, clean towels and a tasty dog menu.
As a special treat for you pooch book a Bare Bones Luxury Spa Dog Grooming with All Canines Great and Small or a fun dog agility session.
Sail to the Isle of Wight with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink. Dogs travel for free and have their own pet lounge on Red Funnel and Wightlink, with pet products from Paleo Ridge, a premium raw dog food company based in Hampshire, available on Wightlink, and Rex’s Range dog-friendly ice cream and Dewkes Treats available for purchase on Red Funnel. On Hovertravel, during the quick 10-minute journey your canine companion can enjoy the ride next to you if on a lead.
Paw-fectly Pampered in Battersea & Chelsea
Battersea Park, is a Victorian Park most famous for its peace pagoda. With its riverside promenade, parkland and woods it’s great place for your furry friend to charge around and enjoy themselves. Afterwards head to Battersea Power Station where there are many pet-friendly cafes and restaurants to choose from before heading to The Pet Spa, Chelsea, for some luxury grooming or to upmarket pet boutique Mungo & Maud near Sloane Square for a new collar or coat!
Feel the wind in your hair – or fur – and enjoy the capital’s sights on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ river bus service. Alight at River Pier: Battersea Power Station.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Texel
The relaxed North Sea island of Texel is a popular holiday spot for Dutch and German visitors, but relatively unknown to Brits. It has white sandy beaches, natural dunes, woods, plenty of dog-friendly accommodation and eateries, and wonderful sunsets to top off a chilled break.
Canine friends can run freely on many westerly beaches year-round, in De Dennen forest and in the dunes between September and March. For hunting dogs and their owners, themed monthly hunting workshops are organised by Jachthondensport. There is even a dog wash on the island, so you can clean mucky paws and get rid of any ticks.
Sail to the Netherlands with DFDS from Newcastle to Amsterdam, P&O Ferries from Hull to Rotterdam or Stena Line from Harwich to Hook of Holland and then take the ferry from Den Helder.
Sail into summer with big savings on stress-free getaways
Although the summer holidays are quickly approaching, you can still book great value trips and reach your favourite destinations for less than other modes of transport. Travelling by ferry also eliminates the extra costs that can really add up including car hire, airport parking, transfers and luggage fees.
To bag the cheapest fares, we always advise travelling at off-peak times such as late night or early morning sailings and outside of busy weekend periods.
Get away without stress
Spacious ships provide plenty of leg room, lounges to sit together and the option to enjoy tranquillity in the fresh air on deck making the journey more relaxed and enjoyable. UK ports have put lots of measures in place to ensure travellers check in quickly and smoothly.
The Port of Dover, ferry operators, coach companies and border officials are working together to efficiently check in coach travel, which can affect traffic flow in the port. During the weekends of the busy summer getaway, coaches will use a designated processing facility at the Port of Dover, which will ensure a comfortable transit for coach passengers and keep roads free for other passengers and freight – meaning a smooth journey all round. Some ferry operators have launched coach passenger apps, which enable travel documents to be uploaded beforehand, speeding up border checks.
Getting to the airport or station on time for your departure can leave you stressed before you start the journey. With over 80 ferry routes from the UK, there is a wide choice of ports to depart from. The time between check in and boarding is much shorter for ferry passengers and, unlike flights and time-stamped train tickets, if you miss the crossing time you booked, you can often just hop on the next available ferry.
Ferries take travellers to some of the most relaxing destinations in the British Isles. The Isle of Man has just launched a Mindful Map, highlighting the most calming and restorative activities on the island – most of them can be enjoyed for free. Sail away with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Boasting the most hours of sunshine and – seemingly – the most spa hotels per head, the Channel Islands can also reward holidaymakers with relaxation. Sail to Jersey or Guernsey with Condor Ferries, from £65 per person each way for a family of four and a car. The savings on flights and car hire can pay for the extra spa treatments!
Vive La France
It’s the world’s most popular tourist destination for a reason but travelling by ferry offers huge savings. If you’re heading to Disneyland, Paris or beyond, a car and up to 9 passengers can sail from Dover to Calais at £68 each way with Irish Ferries, a huge saving compared to Eurostar tickets to Paris, which can cost £274 for a family of four. P&O Ferries has just launched its newest ship, the hybrid P&O Pioneer, to service its Dover Calais route. All P&O Ferries’ Dover-Calais crossings start from £76 each way for a car and up to 9 passengers.
Visitors can also enjoy duty-free on favourite drinks, confectionery and cosmetic brands saving up to 50% on High Street prices. When travelling between Dover and France with DFDS, it’s worth visiting the Duty Free Shops at Calais and Dunkirk ports – parking outside and no baggage limitations make it even easier to load up the car before heading home!
With Bastille Day on 14th July and a summer programme of food, music and cultural events along the French coast it’s easy to see the allure of French summers. A highlight is La Gacilly Photo Festival in Brittany – which transforms the pretty village into an open air gallery from June to October – the theme Nature in Heritage spotlights environmental protection. Travel through Dover, with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries, or sail into western France with Brittany Ferries or DFDS.
Short breaks that won’t leave you short changed
One of the best priced and most enjoyable ways to reach the Dutch capital is by mini cruise. The two-night experience includes overnight sailings, time to enjoy the restaurants, bars and entertainment on board, as well as a shuttle bus service between the port and Amsterdam centre. This saves on flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Depart from Newcastle from just £85 per person1 with DFDS (plus £10 for the bus transfer), or from £95 per person2 with P&O Ferries from Hull.
Until 12th July, Irish Ferries is also offering up to five-day return trips for just £98, which covers travel for a car and up to 9 passengers, making it possible to get from Dover to Calais for just over £10 per person!
Risle-Seine les Etangs near Le Havre is available from just £18.10 per night in late August and Des Abers, near Brest, is offering pitches from £23.28 per night throughout July and August, both available through Caravan and Motorhome Club. The Camping and Caravanning Club is offering up to 40% off stays at Eurocamp throughout Europe. Ferry crossings available from just £87 one way between Newhaven and Dieppe with DFDS, which includes a car with two adults and two children, or from £159 each way between Portsmouth and Le Havre for a car and four passengers with Brittany Ferries.
With a Family River Roamer ticket for Uber Boat by Thames Clippers costing £42.40 when bought online, you can see more of the capital than ever before. The hop-on-hop-off river bus service enables sightseers to easily get from Greenwich through to Battersea Power Station and beyond, saving on train fares and taxis whilst enjoying the view of London from the river. Day trippers can also bring their bikes on board at no extra cost, helping them to rack up the miles while saving weary feet.
Within easy reach of the south coast, the Isle of Wight offers a change of scenery suitable for beach-bums, nature lovers and fossil hunters. Day return is from £21.80 per adult and £10.90 per child with Wightlink with bicycles travelling free of charge. Red Funnel is offering discounts on tickets to popular attractions, so day trippers can save up to 25% on entry to sites including Monkey Haven and 15% off ferry travel when purchased together. For a unique journey, take the world’s only commercial hovercraft from Southsea to Ryde with Hovertravel; families can save on the standard fare when purchasing online in advance, Family Tickets cost £60 and cover 2 adults and up to 3 children. The flight takes just 10 mins, but the memory will last a lifetime!
Stretch your staycation further
If you’re already in Cornwall and looking to venture away from the crowds, head across to St Mary’s with Isles of Scilly Travel. For just £35 per person for a day return, experience a destination fit for royals – the islands are part of the Duchy of Cornwall and are one of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ favourite holiday spots.
Visitors to the North West or Scotland can pack more into their trip with a visit to take in the landscapes of the Isle of Arran. Caledonian MacBrayne is less than £10 return per foot passenger and, cyclists will be happy to hear that bikes go free.
Swerve the most stressful part of travelling – other people!
UK ferry industry reveals the top travel stresses and how to avoid them
Discover Ferries, the industry body for passenger ferry travel, reveals the most trying aspects of travel in a bid to highlight more relaxing ways to get away.
The survey of over 2,000 British consumers reports the most stressful points in holidaymakers’ journeys and what will make the trip more enjoyable.
The top travel stresses
Understandably delays and cancellations featured as the number one irritation (65%). But it’s what comes hot on its heels at numbers two and three that raises an eyebrow.
Nearly as many travellers said being seated near irritating and noisy co-passengers like screaming babies was a major travel stress (61%). Hidden additional costs including excess luggage fees, transfer costs, airport parking and food & drink purchases on the journey completed the top three (57%).
Being in crowded spaces (49%) also featured highly in the list, suggesting that proximity to other travellers hugely impacts the journey experience.
When travelling by ferry, travellers can freely move around spacious ships and away from passengers that they would rather not sit next to. Likewise, people can easily distract children and restless infants by taking them outside on deck or to explore different parts of the ship. This eliminates the stress of keeping children entertained and confined to one seat for long periods. Parents are also less concerned about upsetting fellow passengers, alleviating the stress factor particularly when travelling with a newborn.
The ability to stretch your legs and access fresh air also scores highly as an ingredient for an enjoyable journey, as does the solace of a private en suite cabin. This is unsurprising when 48% of Brits find it stressful to be confined to one seat with no access to fresh air for long periods. On commuter ferry services, it can also help travellers avoid the crowds and enjoy a more relaxing journey to work, enjoying the sights by sea and – in London – avoiding the cramped confined spaces underground.
What makes a “bon voyage”?
Top 10 ways to make your journey enjoyable
Good food & drink
Ability to stretch your legs
A complimentary upgrade e.g., a seat or cabin upgrade
No baggage fees
Sightseeing opportunities and views on the journey
Access to fresh air
Not having to wait for baggage collection
A private en suite cabin
Travelling in your own vehicle
The opportunity to see wildlife in its natural habitat
Abby Penlington, Director at Discover Ferries, says:
“With the space and freedom to move around on board, you can choose who you want to spend your journey with and who you would prefer to avoid. Furthermore, ferries offer spectacular views of the water and its wildlife making a stroll on board even more exciting. We have even created a Wildlife Map with marine life charity ORCA to help passengers spot whales, dolphins, and birds while they enjoy fresh air during their crossing.”
Freedom with baggage
Almost half of Brits (49%) cite fears of lost luggage, while 57% name hidden costs, such as charges for excess luggage, as top travel stresses. This follows earlier research from Discover Ferries, which reported that holidaymakers see luggage fees as the biggest travel rip off – leading almost a quarter of respondents (24%) to say no baggage fees would make their trip more enjoyable. These findings show that hidden costs are not just an inconvenience but can cause travellers additional anxiety.
Penlington continues, “Ferry travel is the antidote to baggage woes and luggage allowances as restrictions do not apply, while taking your vehicle means you can pack as much as you can fit in. Travelling by ferry can alleviate the pressures of packing, being separated from your luggage and the pain of waiting for luggage upon arrival.”
It also negates the challenge of airport security, which 41% of travellers find stressful. While rules around transportation of liquids are changing, the need to unpack, remove clothing and separate hand luggage is still a concern for many.
Penlington, concludes: “Holidays should allow you to get away from the stresses and strains of daily life and the journey should be the start of this experience. Ferry travel offers the benefits travellers seek to make their journey more enjoyable, including the opportunity to indulge in good food on the way. Ferry operators offer a range of culinary treats on board, from quick bites to gourmet meals in fine dining restaurants on larger ships, and ingredients increasingly sourced from local suppliers. When combined with a straightforward boarding procedure and a wide choice of routes to help holidaymakers reach their favourite destinations, we are encouraging more people to discover the joy of ferry travel.”
Results based on a survey conducted for Discover Ferries carried out online by Censuswide. A panel resulting in 2,042 responses from general UK consumers was questioned between 20th and 23rd January 2023. All the research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines.
 Results calculated from a combination of ‘Extremely stressful’ and ‘Quite stressful’ responses
Travelling by ferry is the more relaxing way to travel, with stunning views of the water, the oppotunity to spot wildlife, generous luggage allowances and the ability to get up and walk around. We have partnered with three influencers to highlight all the great facilities that are available on a ferry, whether you are a family or group travelling together, have reduced mobility or are just wanting to feel like you’re getting away by leaving the mainland.
Ferry travellers avoid the biggest travel rip off: Luggage Fees!
Discover Ferries reveals the 10 travel costs Brits consider over-inflated
At a time when rising costs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Discover Ferries, the UK’s passenger ferry industry body, has revealed what Brits perceive to be the biggest rip offs when travelling1. The list reveals where consumers feel they are made to spend extra on travel.
Top 10 Travel rip offs
Paying to sit together with friends and family
Booking extra leg room
Credit card booking fees
Paying for additional hand luggage
Entry to local attractions
Avoid shelling out big bucks for baggage
Recent changes in hand luggage allowance for some forms of transport means more travellers will need to pay for additional bags or luggage to take their essentials with them. With some operators charging £40 each way for additional hand luggage, hold luggage costs ranging from £12 to £110 per bag2 and extra fees for excess and overweight baggage, this can add substantially to the final bill. Charges vary greatly depending on destination and departure date, and aren’t revealed until the point of booking, making it difficult to budget in advance.
Ferry travellers do not encounter the same limitations and costs. In general, ferry passengers don’t need to consider the number of bags they take, or the size and weight of their luggage as they can have “as much as they can carry” within a standard foot passenger or vehicle crossing fare.
No reservation over seat reservation
Travellers also begrudge having to pay to sit with their family and friends or for seats with extra leg room. Many short haul air operators now charge passengers to reserve seats together, which can vary from a couple of pounds to over £50 per seat, each way.
Discover Ferries points out that allocated seating costs do not apply for ferry travel. Ferries boast spacious lounges, on board cafes, bars and restaurants as well as access to fresh air on deck. With the freedom to move around the ship during the journey, groups can easily find somewhere to sit together.
Swerve soaring car hire and parking fees
A global shortage in hire cars saw rental rates soar last summer, which has remained front of mind for many Brits. Furthermore, with parking charges at some airports increasing by 128% in December3, travellers may reconsider how they are getting to and from their departure point or whether they are able to take their own vehicle on holiday in a bid to save money. As a result, the number of ferry passengers travelling with a vehicle grew by 54% last year4.
Escape the hidden costs bumping up holiday prices
The survey shows that the biggest travel rip offs are often the hidden extras, which are less visible in the planning process and therefore less likely to be factored into travel budgets. As well as luggage, seat allocation and credit card fees, respondents also cited single person supplements as unnecessarily steep. Rather than optional extras, these costs are essential for consumers to experience the journey they expect. Opting for modes of transport that give greater value within tickets helps travellers to keep track of their spend and focus their budget on experiences rather than less fun costs.
Abby Penlington, Director of Discover Ferries, comments: “In the current climate value for money has never been more important, while people understand the need for price increases, it is the unexpected charges that make travellers balk. We wanted to see where British travellers feel they are being exploited in a bid to help them find the best value breaks and stretch holiday budgets further.
“Luggage handling fees are evidently the biggest bug bear but for ferry passengers travelling in their own vehicle, the term fill your boots is never truer. Of course, taking your own vehicle also means you have the freedom to explore your destination without the added fees of car rental or airport parking. Furthermore, there is no concern over being charged to sit together during the journey, the space on board enables passengers to stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat and relax as a group. Travelling by ferry means passengers can avoid the top rip offs and reduce their spend on journeys to popular locations including France, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, and British Islands.”
1 Top 10 results based on a survey conducted for Discover Ferries carried out online by Censuswide. A panel resulting in 2,042 responses from general UK consumers was questioned between 20th and 23rd January 2023. All the research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines.
2 Charges from a range of airlines including Aer Lingus, British Airways, EasyJet, Enter Air, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air
Ferry industry invests in greener and more comfortable ships
A total of 17 new ships will be in service within next 5 years
(10 November 2022) Industry body, Discover Ferries, announces that the UK passenger ferry industry will introduce fuel-efficient, hybrid-powered ferries to reduce carbon emissions and improve passenger experience. Six new ships have already entered service in the past two years and a further 11 will join fleets by 2027.
The continued investment in new ships and improved port facilities underlines the industry’s strategy to cater for an increasing number of passengers, provide high quality, efficient and green transport at good value.
Abby Penlington, director of Discover Ferries commented: “This industry-wide investment is great news for the millions of travellers who value comfort, space and value for money but are also mindful of their environmental impact. The new vessels are important milestones in our journey towards a net-zero industry which operates across 80 passenger ferry routes from the British Isles.”
“This industry-wide investment is great news for the millions of travellers who value comfort, space and value for money but are also mindful of their environmental impact. The new vessels are important milestones in our journey towards a net-zero industry which operates across 80 passenger ferry routes from the British Isles.”
A hybrid now for an electric future
A zero-emissions Belfast commuter service is due to launch in 2024. Designed to fly above the water and use 90% less energy than conventional ferries, the ship is being developed by the Belfast Maritime Consortium with Condor Ferries, which will also inform plans for a future electric ferry for the Channel Islands.
Hybrid electric ferries are providing a stepping-stone towards zero emissions. Two new P&O Ferries ships, launching in 2023, are designed to run on battery power for carbon neutral sailings once charging systems are installed in the ports. Hybrid vessels are in development for routes operated by Brittany Ferries, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Isles of Scilly Travel, Caledonian MacBrayne and London’s Uber Boat by Thames Clippers – which is set to launch the UK’s first high speed hybrid ferries in 2023. The vessels can either run on fuel/biofuel or electricity or a combination of the two. As well as fewer emissions, they are significantly quieter and offer a smoother ride – great for passengers, residents near ports and marine life.
Wightlink already operates a hybrid electric ship; Victoria of Wight is the greenest ferry to serve the Isle of Wight. In a bid to reduce carbon by a further 7,500 tonnes per year, it is now aiming to launch the Solent’s first all-electric freight and passenger ferry within the next five years. Similarly, all-electric vessels are in development by Caledonian MacBrayne for the West Coast of Scotland.
Shore power ready, both Wightlink and Brittany Ferries’ plan for future vessels to be plugged in at port to recharge. The ferry operator commitment coincides with Portsmouth International Port’s investment in solar generation, which completes early 2023. It is the first UK port to install solar canopies; 2,600 panels sit above Brittany Ferries’ car lanes providing shade for the vehicles while generating power. Together with a 1.5 megawatt per hour battery to store unused power, the renewable energy project could contribute up to 98% of the port’s electricity consumption in ideal conditions.
Stena Line is developing its next generation of E-flexer vessels which will be dual-fuel methanol hybrids. The ferry operator is working with engine manufacturers to convert the vessels as well as develop the port infrastructure to support them. The newly converted ships will operate on key routes from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and from Belfast to Cairnryan.
Cutting carbon on the Channel
Efforts are underway to reduce emissions on the world’s busiest shipping lane. Next year, P&O Ferries will launch the largest and most sustainable ships to sail between Dover and France, P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberté. The two new double-ender ferries allow for boarding and disembarkation at both ends to aid fast turn-around on the busy Dover-Calais service. With a capacity for 1,500 passengers each, they will improve economic and environmental efficiencies.
The Port of Dover itself is targeting net zero emissions by 2025 and was recently awarded funding as part of the Green Corridor Short Straits (GCSS) consortium. This includes French ports Calais and Dunkirk, ferry operators Irish Ferries, DFDS and P&O Ferries among other partners. The feasibility study will take steps to establish the first zero-carbon trade route in the UK.
Brittany Ferries, which operates services on the western Channel to France and Spain, will launch Santoña, a new liquified natural gas (LNG) -fuelled ferry, in the Spring. Sister to the Salamanca, which entered service this year, the ships reduce CO2 output by approximately 25% and drastically reduces emissions that affect air quality. Fuel agnostic, they can also run on even cleaner fuels such as bio-LNG and e-methane when infrastructure is in place.
Increasing capacity in the British Isles and Irish Sea
In 2019 more than 37 million passenger journeys were made by ferry to the British Isles and Ireland, France, Spain and The Netherlands. The importance of comfort, value for money, and the desire to avoid airport queues, baggage fees and car rental costs is expected to increase the number of ferry travellers. To meet both passenger and freight demand, operators are investing in larger, more efficient ships.
Among the most energy efficient vessels in the world, three of Stena Line’s bigger E-flexer ships have already been deployed in the Irish Sea, these are the same model of ships as DFDS’ Côte D’Opale and Brittany Ferries’ Santoña, Salamanca and Galicia. Stena Estrid, Embla and Edda have boosted Stena Line’s capacity on the Irish Sea by a third and are 30% more energy efficient than the vessels they replaced. Recently added silicon coverings on the hulls have improved fuel efficiency further.
The new Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ship can carry approximately 50% more passengers than the current ferry and features more cabins and a greatly enhanced passenger experience. Furthermore, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is working towards replacing its passenger ferry and freight ships. The new passenger ferry, Scillonian IV, would accommodate up to 600 passengers, increasing capacity by more than 20%.
Penlington adds: “As well as improved efficiency and a switch to cleaner fuels and hybrid propulsion, the new ships boast new onboard facilities and upgraded interiors to offer passengers and, increasingly, their pets a comfortable journey in a truly modern setting. Together with more sustainable engines, the improved onboard experience ensures future generations of ferry travellers, further cementing our industry’s future.”
“As well as improved efficiency and a switch to cleaner fuels and hybrid propulsion, the new ships boast new onboard facilities and upgraded interiors to offer passengers and, increasingly, their pets a comfortable journey in a truly modern setting. Together with more sustainable engines, the improved onboard experience ensures future generations of ferry travellers, further cementing our industry’s future.”
Onboard upgrades for four-legged travel
The investment also improves onboard experiences, to appeal to passengers’ needs and high expectations, strengthening ferries’ position as the most relaxing and comfortable way to travel.
With more space on board and access to fresh air on deck, it has always been easier and more comfortable to take pets away via ferry than by plane or train. With the growing number of pet owners and increasing cost of kennels, the trend for pet-friendly holidays is also expected to rise and operators have improved services accordingly. This year, P&O Ferries opened pet lounges on its cross-Channel services, which have space for pets and their owners to rest and access to an outside exercise area. Stena Line already offers dog kennels on routes to Ireland and Holland and new pet-friendly cabins on routes to Holland. Following requests from regular passengers, the new Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ship, Manxman, will feature two pet lounges.
Entry into Service Dates for New Ships
Company and ship
Brittany Ferries Galicia
Portsmouth-Santander and Bilbao
Stena Line Stena Estrid
Stena Line Stena Edda
Stena Line Stena Embla
DFDS Côte D’Opale
Brittany Ferries Salamanca
Brittany Ferries Santoña
Portsmouth-Santander and Bilbao
Caledonian MacBrayne MV Glen Sannox
Ardrossan-Isle of Arran
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Manxman
P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberté
Uber Boat by Thames Clippers
Caledonian MacBrayne Glen Sannox
Scottish West Coast
Caledonian MacBrayne Hull 802
Scottish West Coast
Isle of Islay
Brittany Ferries Saint Malo
Isle of Islay
Caledonian MacBrayne – two new ships
Scottish West Coast
Wightlink – first electric ship
Isles of Scilly Steamship Group – replacement for Scillonian III and freight ships Gry Maritha and Lyonesse Lady
Ferry sector delivers the goods, the people and significant value to the European economy
£8 billion to European GDP, which is 17.3% of total shipping contribution
109,000 jobs in Europe are in ferry companies, 16% of total jobs in shipping
Traveller sentiment towards ferries has improved: air has suffered (based on pre and post-Covid comparison)
(20 October 2021) Figures presented at Interferry, the global meeting of ferry chiefs in Santander Spain this October, reveal the significant contribution the sector makes to the European economy. It accounts for a direct annual contribution of £8bn to European GDP, 17.3% of the shipping sector’s £46.5bn contribution, and is responsible for 109,000 jobs. That’s 16% of all 685,000 European jobs in shipping. These, and other headlines were revealed to 260 member companies from 40 countries as part of a study by Oxford Economic, commissioned by Interferry1.
Ferry sector’s contribution to European shipping industry:
Ferry as % of shipping
The figures underline the importance of ferries, beyond a pandemic where they have kept essential goods like medicines and food moving across borders and to island communities. Freight has kept rolling on and off ships, despite travel restrictions that have significantly hit passenger numbers.
The good news is that, in a normal year, ferries carry around 4.2 billion passengers globally. That’s on a par with air transport. In the UK alone there are some 46.9 million passenger journeys in a year. There are also 15.07 million vehicles carried on ferries operating from the UK.4
European v global ferry sector – passenger and vehicles carried
European ferry sector
Global ferry sector
“These figures highlight a vibrant sector of the British and European economies that has operated under the radar for too long,” said Abby Penlington Director at Discover Ferries. “Our member companies are the arteries that run across water, maintaining the flow of essential goods and services, boosting employment and wealth, while offering passengers a real alternative to flying. There is no doubt that ferries will continue to punch well above their weight as travel restrictions ease and we return to normality.”
In terms of passenger volumes, domestic operators fared better than companies connecting international destinations this year. However better news lies ahead for all.
Households have built up around £50bn in lockdown savings, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Scottish Friends. Travel and overseas accommodation were cited as the number one area where these savings are likely to be spent.
Furthermore, 69% of respondents to an L.E.K. Consulting5 survey of 1490 people said they intended to return to, or increase their frequency of travel next year, compared with 2019 levels. 21% said they intended to travel more with nearly half of those citing “to make up for lost time” as their reason.
Ferry v Air Travel
L.E.K. Consulting’s research also examined nearly 3 million social media posts pre- and post-Covid. This looked at the five international ferry operators in the UK and easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways. It revealed an increase in posts expressing joy in ferry travel and a significant reduction in posts expressing fear. The opposite was true for the airlines.
Abby Penlington commented: “It is heartening to see in L.E.K. Consulting’s analysis the increase in consumers who value the relaxing experience that ferry travel offers. The opportunity to travel in your own vehicle, take in the views from the deck and a have bite to eat, as well as the use of large, open public spaces and access to fresh air throughout the journey not only gives travellers the confidence to get away, but also ensures they really enjoy their time on board.”
Interferry is a shipping association representing the ferry industry worldwide.
Source: The Ferry Industry’s Impact in Europe, Oxford Economics 2021, original study in USD converted at an exchange rate of £1 = $1.37.
Source: FerryStat & FreightStat, IRN Research. Passenger journeys include Uber Boat by Thames Clippers London River Bus and Woolwich Ferry passengers. Vehicles include cars, coaches and RO-RO freight units.
L.E.K. Consulting report European Ferry Recovery and Outlook produced for the Interferry Conference, Santander, 4 October 2021.
P&O Ferries Leads Summer Surge in UK Trade and Tourism
The summer saw P&O Ferries cement its position as the market leader on the UK’s biggest ferry route with Europe, Dover-Calais, after introducing the new hybrid vessel P&O Pioneer.
The company saw a 71 per cent increase in freight crossing the Channel compared to last year, and a 48 per cent increase in passenger numbers.
P&O Ferries saw demand strengthen across its route network, with passenger traffic up 39 per cent overall including the North Sea and Irish Sea crossings, and freight up 35 per cent.
27th September 2023 : Reporting strong increases in summer passenger and freight traffic, P&O Ferries cemented its position as market leader on Europe’s busiest ferry route between Dover and Calais and saw rises across its network.
From June to August 2023, P&O Ferries saw a 71 per cent increase in freight volumes on the Dover-Calais route compared to the summer of 2022. The ferry operator has been able to meet the rise in freight traffic and boost its market share on the Dover-Calais ferry route to 46 per cent, matching capacity to demand and focussing on offering customers regular sailings, a quality service and the best possible value.
The return to strength of UK-EU trade can also be seen throughout P&O Ferries’ network with an overall 35 per cent growth in freight volumes across all routes.
As well as the increases in freight, P&O Ferries also received a major boost in passenger numbers, as the public looks to make more sustainable travel choices. Summer holiday passengers flocked to the new P&O Pioneer as the Dover-Calais route saw a 48 per cent increase in passengers compared to the previous year, with 1.3 million passengers travelling across the Channel with P&O Ferries from June to August.
Since entering into service in mid-June, 265,000 passengers travelled on the hybrid P&O Pioneer in the course of the summer, experiencing the comfort and exceptional facilities of the first of two brand new vessels being introduced on the route.
Around the UK, P&O Ferries’ routes overall saw a 39 per cent increase in total passenger volume on the previous year.
P&O Ferries CEO, Peter Hebblethwaite said “We are delighted by the trust that our customers have put into us to deliver a best-in-class offering on important trade and tourist routes between the UK and the EU. We are serving our customers better than ever and seeing P&O Ferries surging ahead again as the market leader on the Dover-Calais route.
“We are excited that more customers are choosing us on our journey to the sustainable future of travel, and we look forward to welcoming millions more for the exceptional and unique experience of sailing on our new hybrid ships in the months ahead.”
June saw the introduction of P&O Pioneer, the world’s largest double-ended hybrid ferry, which has the capacity to carry over half a million goods units a year between the UK and the EU.
In early 2024, P&O Ferries’ second hybrid vessel, P&O Liberté, will enter service on the Dover-Calais route, as P&O Ferries launches a new era of cross-Channel ferry travel as the first operator to service the route only using hybrid Fusion Class ships.
These advanced vessels, specifically designed to serve the busy Dover-Calais crossing, enable more passengers to make sustainable choices and support reduced emissions in the supply chain, helping industries across the economy to meet their emissions targets.
In April, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group announced a private financing solution for the replacement of the vessels and the intent to select a preferred shipyard. This announcement continues the next stage of the Group’s plan.
Piriou is a long-established ship builder with over 50 years’ experience building more than 600 vessels. It has over 1,400 highly-skilled employees, including an in-house design team and production facilities in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Piriou has a strong balance sheet with an annual turnover of over €300m.
Appointing Piriou comes after months of thorough evaluation, technical questioning and site visits to France and Vietnam, as part of the Group’s due diligence processes.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group and Piriou will commence detailed design work with the intention of signing contracts in October 2023 for the new Scillonian IV passenger ship and a new cargo vessel to replace the current Gry Maritha.
Construction of both vessels will commence in Piriou’s Vietnam yard in spring 2024. The vessels will then be transferred to Piriou’s yard in France for commissioning and testing, ready for delivery ahead of the 2026 season.
Working with a team of experts, the project will be managed by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group’s two on-site project managers to make sure that there is constant representation at the shipyard and to ensure that the build programme remains on budget and on time for delivery.
The new faster passenger ferry will be designed to provide passengers with greater comfort through improved stabilisation, accessibility and an overall enhanced experience, in line with feedback received during the Group’s consultation with visitors and residents on Scilly.
The new cargo vessel will have increased freight capacity and provide comfortable transport for up to 12 passengers per sailing during the winter. Both vessels will use the latest propulsion technology with improved environmental credentials along with the capability to be upgraded as green technologies mature.
Stuart Reid, CEO, of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group said:
“This is a big step forward and an important milestone for our vessel replacement programme, which will deliver new and improved vessels for the Isles of Scilly. The selection process started with over 30 shipyards which have been evaluated by our experienced project team. The project team, consisting of a mix of technical expertise, shipbuilding experience and the four masters of our current vessels, worked through a series of bids delivered by the shipyards. Visits took place to shortlisted shipyards to complete our extensive due diligence. The project team was unanimous in its decision to appoint Piriou as its preferred shipyard on the basis of experience, technical expertise in delivering specialist ferries and competitiveness.”
Ian Howard, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group said:
“Piriou has an excellent reputation for building both passenger ferries and cargo vessels. Its naval architects and senior management team have conducted multiple visits to Penzance and the Isles of Scilly and have a full understanding of the challenges of the route and infrastructure to support the new vessels. We are very excited to be working with Piriou and building vessels which will deliver significant service enhancements.”
Vincent Faujour, President of Piriou shipyard said:
“We are delighted and honoured to be named as the preferred shipyard by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group for construction of its new passenger ferry Scillonian IV and new cargo vessel. As we have been building and maintaining lifeline ferries for decades, we know how important this project is for the communities depending on the sea link services to the Isles of Scilly. Working closely with the Group’s project team, our teams in Brittany and Vietnam are already fully dedicated to deliver to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group the most suitable vessels, designed for rough seas, with increased comfort and a reduced environmental footprint. Finally, as Concarneau and Penzance have been twin towns since 1982, I must say it is a real pleasure to participate in a project that will strengthen the links between Cornwall and the Breton “Cornouaille”.”