Author: abby

Dog-Friendly Travel

Pet-Friendly Ferry Travel

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.

Dog-friendly ferry destinations

Dog-friendly ferry destinations   

Brook Bay, Isle of Wight © Visit Isle of Wight

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.

Channel Islands

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.

View from Vale Castle © Visit Guernsey

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.

Dog in the dunes in Normandy, France


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.

The Gardens of the Château d’Acquigny 37 acres of garden, with a river, boating lake and orchard to explore for dogs on a lead.

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.

Sail to Caen or Le Havre with Brittany Ferries, Dieppe with DFDS or to Calais with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.


The Causeway Coastal Route

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.

Sail with Stena Line or P&O Ferries from Cairnryan to Belfast / Larne.

Walker beneath Mahon Falls, Comeragh Mountains, Co Waterford, Ireland © Gareth McCormarch


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.

Highlights include:

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!

Sail with Irish Ferries or Stena Line from Pembroke / Fishguard to Rosslare.

Isle Of Arran, Scotland

Goat Fell Ridge, Isle of Arran

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.

Sail to Brodick from Ardrossan with Caledonian MacBrayne

Isle of Man

Groudle Glen, Isle of Man

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.

Sail from Heysham to Douglas with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Isles of Scilly

Image Credit © Isles of Scilly Travel

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

Image Credit © Visit 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 and Carisbrooke Castle 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.


Earth Clipper passing Battersea Power Station

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.

The Netherlands

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.

Ferries are the best way to travel over seas with pets

Ferries are “pawsitively” the best way to travel over seas with pets

  • Discover Ferries partners with The Kennel Club to launch “A guide to paw-some pet-friendly getaways
  • A bell, sunglasses and Pawfume – Ferry operators reveal the most surprising items dog owners take on holiday

After identifying a significant rise in pet travel, Discover Ferries, the ferry industry body, has teamed up with The Kennel Club – organisers of Crufts – to highlight some of the best places for dogs and their owners to explore, and offer travel advice.

When surveyed, members of The Kennel Club community voted ferry travel as the easiest way to journey over seas in the British Isles and beyond with their dog1. The ability to travel with a car or motorhome, together with a range of pet-dedicated facilities on board ensures pets – and their owners – travel in comfort and arrive at their destination feeling relaxed.

Rise in pet travel

Since 2019, ferry operators have seen a vast increase in the number of dogs booked in for travel. In line with the rise of the staycation, domestic ferry operators have reported more pets on board. On average, operators have noted that pet travel is up by at least 20% on 2019 figures. Some routes have seen an increase of more than 73%. On Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services around Scotland’s west coast, pet travel has increased in the last year with over 54,000 pet crossings taken in 2023 so far.

The purchase of pandemic pups and increased home working is influencing the way owners spend their holiday, 95% of The Kennel Club community say they want to take their dog away with them. Increased interest in pet travel has encouraged more pet-friendly experiences to open up. With almost all of respondents (96%) travelling at least once a year and more than half of dog owners (55%) travelling at least three times a year, there is even more reason for operators to invest in pet travel to cater for this thriving market.

Abby Penlington, Director of Discover Ferries, says: “The ability to easily drive or walk on board with a dog makes ferry travel particularly appealing to dog owners. Since lockdown, ferry operators have seen a rise in pet travel and are investing in dedicated pet lounges, cabins and other facilities including pet promenades to give owners the opportunity to enjoy the journey with their pet as much as the time they spend at their destination.”

The most comfortable way to travel

Pet cabins, promenades, lounges, pet cleaning stations and even the now infamous “pee trees” on Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ships, give pups and their owners greater comfort during the journey. Brittany Ferries now has 138 kennels across its fleet, which has increased by 25% since 2019 and Stena Line has 15 pet-friendly cabins on board each of its ships that travel between the UK and the Netherlands. Six new cabins open on Condor Islander in October, uptake is already proving popular and Condor Ferries is already looking to install more on other ships.

Travel across the Solent is as much of a day out for dogs as it is hoomans. Hovertravel welcomes dogs aboard for the 10-minute flight from Southsea to the Isle of Wight and has a free Hover Paws bowl at the terminal so dogs can hydrate before they hop on. Four-legged passengers on Red Funnel can enjoy a lick of Doggie Ice Cream or indulge in some nutritious treats from new product partner Dewkes. Travellers on Wightlink ferries can pick up dog food from Paleo Ridge, based in Hampshire, so both pets and owners can eat locally sourced food while on board.

“Doggy bag” essentials

As well as making sure you’ve visited your vet well in advance of your trip, and are aware of all the necessary travel documents needed for your pet,, The Kennel Club and ferry operators have put together a definitive list of must-have items to pack to ensure your dog travels in comfort 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. If travelling to the EU meat and dairy cannot be taken across, so, Discover Ferries advises taking vegan dog biscuits and fruits and vegetables such as carrots and bananas for your dog to snack on during the journey.

The Kennel Club & Discover Ferries’ Doggy travel essentials
1. Dog bed and blanket
2. Towels
3. Bowls for food and water
4. Poo bags
5. Dog lead and/or harness
6. Favourite toys
7. Raincoat
8. Pet-friendly wipes
9. Treats and / or your dog’s preferred brand of pet food (unless travelling to the EU)
10. Dog travel carrier or crate, if required
11. Details for a local vet near where you are staying
12. A muzzle – some ferry operators require dogs to be muzzled when on board and outside your vehicle

While The Kennel Club recommends taking practical and familiar items from home and favourite toys to help keep pets calm and entertained, some survey respondents identified more unusual essentials that they’d never leave home without. One even said they played audio books to help soothe their dogs.

The most unusual items dog owners take on holiday
1. “Pawfume”
2. Sunglasses and a fan
3. A car plug-in sprayer to cool dogs down and rinse them off after muddy walks
4. A bell to hang on the door – so the dog can let owners know when they want to go out
5. A dog pram or pushchair
6. A vent lock – so owners can lock the car but still leave the boot slightly open for ventilation
7. A life jacket and a post-swim puppy robe
8. A body camera – to capture holiday memories from the dog’s POV
9. A fancy bow tie just in case!
10. Hair clips and a rechargeable hairdryer

Penlington continues: “We all like to pack essentials but also take our favourite clothes away with us and it is no different for our dogs. While it may be surprising to see some of the items owners deem essential on the list, travelling by ferry means they don’t have to compromise on what to pack as they have the space to bring extra items with them.”

The pawfect destinations

To inspire owners to explore with their dogs, Discover Ferries has compiled a list of the 10 best dog-friendly destination reached by water. The guide features favourite routes for walkies, the best beaches to pad around, historic and cultural attractions open to dogs and some specialist pet activities such as themed dog training workshops.

Read the full guide here. UK suggestions include the Scottish Isle of Arran, pet pampering spa and shopping trips in Chelsea, the Isle of Wight, Isle of Man and Isles of Scilly. Further afield, visitors can enjoy dog training classes on Texel in the Netherlands, Normandy and Waterford in Ireland.

Emma Dyer, Head of Marketing at The Kennel Club says: “Dogs are very much a part of the family so it’s not unexpected that so many people are keen to take their dogs with them on new adventures. People are often surprised just how easy it is to travel with their dog but, particularly following this summer’s heatwave in Southern Europe, want to be confident that the destination will be the right fit for their dog – including a comfortable temperature, as well as having plenty of activities and suitable walks to keep their canine companion occupied. We’re delighted to partner with passenger ferry operators to identify the best dog-friendly places across the UK, British Islands, Ireland and Europe – and the optimum time of year to visit.

“Autumn is a lovely time to travel with dogs as it is slightly cooler, quieter and often beaches drop any restrictions for dogs, although owners should always check local guidance before they travel. It’s also the start of the season for fireside dining in many pubs and restaurants, when dogs will enjoy curling up next to the fire after a long walk.”

Visit for more information on dog-friendly trips by ferry.


1 Discover Ferries received 1,355 responses from a survey run with The Kennel Club community in September 2023. Results showed 54% respondents voted ferries as “easy” or “very easy” to travel on with their pet. This compares with 35% for train travel and just 3% saying that air travel is easy or very easy. 

Swerve the most stressful part of travelling – other people!

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[1] 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.

Children on deck on P&O Ferries

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[1] 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
1Good food & drink
2Ability to stretch your legs
3A complimentary upgrade e.g., a seat or cabin upgrade
4No baggage fees
5Sightseeing opportunities and views on the journey
6Access to fresh air
7Not having to wait for baggage collection
8A private en suite cabin
9Travelling in your own vehicle
10The 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[1]. 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[1]. 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. 

[1] Results calculated from a combination of ‘Extremely stressful’ and ‘Quite stressful’ responses

Ferry travellers avoid the biggest travel rip off: Luggage Fees!

Family with their car in the port waiting to board the ferry

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 
1Luggage fees
2Paying to sit together with friends and family
3Airport parking
4 =Booking extra leg room
4 =Credit card booking fees
5Paying for additional hand luggage
6Travel fares
7Travel insurance
8Entry to local attractions
10Car hire

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.   

Vehicles boarding a Brittany Ferries ferry. Credit Brittany Ferries

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.

Credit: Condor Ferries

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

3 Research from Your Parking Space, November 2022

4 IRN Ferry Ferrystat Monthly Ferry Passenger Statistic, December 2022

A hybrid future for the ferry industry

Ferry stern and ship wake

A hybrid future for the ferry industry

  • Ferry industry invests in greener and more comfortable ships
  • A total of 20 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 14 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.

New hybrid vessel for the River Thames, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

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.

P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberté, P&O Ferries

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.

Saint Malo, Brittany Ferries

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 DFDSCôte 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%.

Manxman, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

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. 

P&O Ferries Pet Lounge: Dover to Calais

Entry into Service Dates for New Ships

YearCompany and shipRoute
2020Brittany Ferries GaliciaPortsmouth-Santander and Bilbao
Stena Line Stena EstridDublin-Holyhead
Stena Line Stena EddaLiverpool-Belfast
2021Stena Line Stena EmblaLiverpool-Belfast
DFDS Côte D’OpaleDover-France
2022Brittany Ferries SalamancaPortsmouth-Santander
2023Brittany Ferries SantoñaPortsmouth-Santander and Bilbao
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ManxmanHeysham-Douglas
P&O Pioneer and P&O LibertéDover-Calais
Uber Boat by Thames Clippers – Earth ClipperCelestial Clipper and Mars ClipperThames river
2024Caledonian MacBrayne Glen SannoxArdrossan-Isle of Arran
 Caledonian MacBrayne MV Isle of IslayIsle of Islay
 Condor FerriesBelfast-Bangor
2025Brittany Ferries Saint MaloPortsmouth-St Malo
 Brittany Ferries Guillaume de NormandiePortsmouth-Caen
Caledonian MacBrayne MV Glen RosaScottish West Coast
Caledonian MacBrayne MV Loch IndaalIsle of Islay
 Caledonian MacBrayne – two new shipsScottish West Coast
2026-27Wightlink – first electric shipSolent
2026Isles of Scilly Steamship Group – replacement for Scillonian III and freight ships Gry Maritha and Lyonesse LadyPenzance-St Mary’s

Ferry sector delivers the goods, the people and significant value to the European economy

Sunset across the coast.

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:

 FerryShippingFerry as % of shipping
Economic Value£8bn2£46.5bn317.3%

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 sectorGlobal ferry sector%
Passengers794 million4.27 billion18.6%
Vehicles199 million373 million53.3%

“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. Consultingsurvey 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.

L.E.K. Consulting graph showing sentiment towards ferry travel improved during the pandemic whereas sentiment to air travel suffered
Brandwatch L.E.K. Analysis

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.”  


  1. Interferry is a shipping association representing the ferry industry worldwide.
  2. Source: The Ferry Industry’s Impact in Europe, Oxford Economics 2021, original study in USD converted at an exchange rate of £1 = $1.37.
  3. Source: Economic Value of the EU Shipping Industry, Oxford Economics 2020:, original study in USD converted at an exchange rate of £1 = $1.37.
  4. 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.
  5. L.E.K. Consulting report European Ferry Recovery and Outlook produced for the Interferry Conference, Santander, 4 October 2021.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Brian Smith

Irish Ferries Fleet Changes for Rosslare Pembroke and Dover Calais Routes

Irish Ferries Fleet Changes for Rosslare Pembroke and Dover Calais Routes

Irish Ferries is pleased to announce that the ro-ro cruise ferry Isle of Innisfree will move to the Rosslare Pembroke route, replacing a temporary charter ship currently servicing the route.  The Isle of Innisfree was built in 1992 by the Boelwerf shipyard in Belgium and has the capacity to carry up to 1,140 passengers, 83 freight vehicles or 600 cars. The ship offers a host of quality facilities for freight drivers/passengers including Boylan’s Brassiere self-service restaurant, Café Lafayette, a Club Class lounge, onboard duty-free shop, children’s play area and spacious outdoor decks.  A freight driver’s lounge and cabins complete the accommodation.

Irish Ferries have also confirmed today the addition of the Spirit of Britain to its fleet.  The ship, which will be renamed, will join the Dover to Calais route in June, replacing the Isle of Innisfree on this busy route, the key trade link for the UK to Europe.

Spirit of Britain entered service in 2011, following construction at STX Europe (Aker) shipyard in Rauma, Finland.   The 213m long ship has capacity for up to 2000 passengers, 1,059 cars or 180 freight vehicles, and can travel at a speed of up to 22 knots.

The ship will undergo rebranding to its livery and to add the popular Irish Ferries outlets, completing the comfortable passenger areas and on-board facilities, which includes a Club lounge with its own outdoor area, children’s play area, Duty Free Shop, pet lounge, and expansive outdoor decks. Freight drivers can also enjoy the well-equipped facilities, including a drivers’ lounge and dedicated showers.

Whether travelling for business, holidays or to visit loved ones, Irish Ferries’ award-winning hospitality and outstanding service brings a unique travel experience that is built on Irish Ferries’ ethos of encouraging passengers to ‘Sea Travel Differently’.

Andrew Sheen, Managing Director at Irish Ferries, said: “The addition of the Isle of Innisfree on the Rosslare Pembroke route and the Spirit of Britain on the Dover – Calais route is a sign of our ongoing commitment to these routes, and ensuring we offer our freight and passenger customers quality service for these important connections between Britain and Ireland and Britain and France. We look forward to welcoming passengers on board to experience our award-winning hospitality and service.” 

Prices for one-way sailings start from €170 for a car plus 1 adult on its Rosslare Pembroke route and from €84 for a car and up to nine passengers on its Dover Calais route.  Customers can book online at Passenger bookings made with Irish Ferries, whatever the route, can earn points for savings on future sailings with its loyalty programme, Irish Ferries Club

Hovertravel releases over 60 late flights for July & August

Hovertravel releases over 60 late flights for July & August

Hovertravel has enhanced its evening and night-time timetable by adding 66 flights across the summer months of July and August.

Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Our customers have said they would like to see later flights to and from the Isle of Wight at certain times of the year. Additionally, we already have timetabled extra flights to support events such as Big Beach Weekender, Isle of Wight Pride and the Victorious Festival. These festivals are within walking distance of our terminals and the later flights provide great opportunities for people to travel in the opposite direction.

We are promoting these extra flights from now to give customers plenty of time to plan some of their summer evenings, on both sides of Solent.”

The longer days and warmer temperatures of the late summer months, combined with the school holidays are the best time to enjoy evening activities. With award-winning restaurants, several theatres and the chance to see some spectacular sunsets with friends and family, Southsea and Ryde are great night-time destinations.

Foodies are spoilt for choice in Ryde with both The Duck restaurant and Michelin-starred chef Robert Thompson’s RT Café Grill & Thompson’s just a few minutes from our terminal, whilst in Southsea a gentle stroll along the sea front brings you to The Briny or you can cross the Common to sample Southsea’s burgeoning street food scene.

Theatre goers and music-lovers alike will love the surroundings of Kings Theatre in Southsea which offers an extensive programme of tribute acts from all genres of music.

Loretta added: “Our customers also tell us that as well as going out, they want the late flights to extend the time they have when hosting or visiting friends and family. So now you can plan barbecues, parties and get-togethers secure in the knowledge you can fly back across the Solent in under ten minutes.”

Hovertravel’s late flights start as early 2115 with several operating late into the night and even past midnight. For specific times, dates and to book please visit:

Automated gates arrive on Wightlink’s FastCat foot passenger route

Automated gates arrive on Wightlink’s FastCat foot passenger route

Wightlink Fastcat service to Ryde Pier
Wightlink’s FastCat ferry at Ryde Pier

Foot passengers travelling on Wightlink’s FastCats between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier will be using automatic entrance gates at both ports by early May 2024. The gates will also accept electronic through tickets for customers combining cross-Solent travel with rail journeys.

Once customers have passed through the electronic gates, they will be able to relax in the passenger lounge until their FastCat is ready for boarding. Port staff will be around to support and advise customers during and after the installation of the gates.

Wightlink has invested half a million pounds in the technology at its terminals to make foot passenger journeys easier and provide a direct link to rail ticketing systems. The gates will be able to recognise rail tickets with barcodes or QR codes as well as Wightlink paper tickets, passes and online tickets on smart phones. Customers using rail tickets with magnetic strips will need them to be scanned manually by port staff as will adults travelling with children.

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says:

“We are always looking at how to improve how our customers travel through our ports and these gates will make it easier for people with a combined rail and FastCat e-ticket.”