Whether you travelling on a shoestring or you want to splash out and treat yourself, ferry travel offers something for all budgets. So you can get the best value from your trip or indulge in a little luxury we have put together our guide on how to save or splash out when travelling by ferry.
Get the best value ferry trips
- Book early
Saver tickets sell out early, so take advantage of low rates on your preferred travel dates by booking as ferry companies release their new season timetables. Go for flexible ticketing options for the freedom to change travel plans later at no extra charge
- Travel off peak
Choose less popular sailing times such as midweek and, on routes with overnight crossings, opt for daytime departures to make even greater savings on your ticket price
- Squeeze into the shoulder season
For a summer getaway that doesn’t break the bank, holiday mid-June to early July or in early September. Holidaymakers benefit from the warmer weather, lower cost accommodation and quieter tourist attractions
- Save across every part of your holiday
A car crossing ticket includes carriage for at least two passengers, often up to four, or in some cases nine passengers and includes as much luggage as you can fit in, without incurring excess baggage fees. You can even take bicycles and paddleboards. It also saves on vehicle rental and means you have everything you need for your perfect holiday with you.
- Consider combination tickets
Many ferry firms partner with local attractions, hotels, caravan and camping clubs and transport services such as rail and sail offers to pass on bigger savings to customers.
Best value holidays
Pitch up and save on your stay
Staying at campsites can provide inexpensive accommodation for all the family, with a fortnight’s family stay on the Isle of Wight during the summer holidays costing as little as £250 (price from The Camping and Caravanning Club). Simply hop across the Solent with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink. Ferry travel makes it easy for caravans and motorhome owners to reach their favourite destinations and, for campers, tents and equipment can be transported within the price of your ticket, whether going as a car or foot passenger.
Sites often provide free or low-cost entertainment and sports facilities to keep everyone busy and being in the great outdoors gives direct access to nature’s beauty. In Dark Skies areas such as the Isle of Man, reached via the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the Channel Islands, via Condor Ferries, stargazers can observe the best sights in the Milky Way by just stepping outside their van or tent.
Visit free attractions
Cashtal yn Ard prehistoric site ©Manx National Heritage
So many museums, public artworks and heritage sites can be visited for free, enabling visitors to soak up local culture without having to open their wallets. Exploring the coastline, countryside and hills either by foot or your own car is also a great way to save money. It’s worth picking up destination information booklets on board or using the crossing to research interesting attractions online. Ferry favourites include Isle of Man’s Manx National Heritage sites, which are accessible with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Art lovers can see the free collections at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain by sailing direct on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ River Bus services.
Home-stays off the beaten track
Holiday Cottage ©Atout France / Joel Damase
Self-catering and holiday homes offer fantastic savings when compared to hotels and can provide richer experiences. Passengers sailing to France with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries can benefit from the government-sponsored scheme Bienvenue à la Ferme, which offers great value accommodation on farms and often includes homemade meals made with home-grown ingredients. French gites, bed and breakfasts, also offer great value accommodation.
Cut accommodation costs completely
Tower Bridge from the River Thames © Uber Boat by Thames Clippers
By eliminating the need to overnight, day-trippers can experience travel without hefty hotel bills. Ferry routes open access to a range of destinations that can be visited in one day and allows you to enjoy the crossing as part of the experience. Day trips to the pristine Isles of Scilly on the Scillonian with Isles of Scilly Travel; to Guernsey with Condor Ferries; to Scotland’s western islands and peninsulas with Caledonian MacBrayne; to Northern Ireland with P&O Ferries and Stena Line; and to the Isle of Wight with Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink, make it easy to take in the beauty on our doorstep across the British Islands while relaxing, taking in spectacular views and spotting marine life.
To take in the best views of London’s iconic sights, travel around the city with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. From £18.40 the River Roamer ticket allows visitors to hop on and off the frequent river services all day to stop at many top attractions. River views, fresh air and space guaranteed!
Jaunts across the Channel for the day are back on the menu with travellers able to indulge in duty-free shopping and save up to half-price on souvenirs and goods including alcohol, perfume and chocolates. Once in Calais, discover the Calais Dragon, one of the Saurian machines that is transforming the Calais seafront. Day return car crossings are available from Dover with DFDS and P&O Ferries. For an extended break, DFDS and P&O Ferries run two-night mini cruises to Amsterdam, so travellers can overnight on board and spend the day exploring the city’s canals, cafes and museums.
P&O Ferries Club Lounge
Travel in style
With ferry travel, the holiday starts as soon as you step on board so there is plenty of opportunity to upgrade your journey and enjoy a premium experience*.
- Priority boarding for those who want to be the first to board
- Upgrade to the club-class experience – sail in the premium lounge – with complimentary food and beverages, free WiFi and comfy seating in stylish surroundings
- On longer sailings, ensuite cabins and suites are available for total relaxation and privacy
- A la carte dining – start the holiday experience as soon as you board with a delicious 3-course meal
- Relax with a spa treatment onboard Stena Line and Brittany Ferries Pont-Aven
*Onboard facilities differ per operator and ship so check the operator’s website for which services are available for your journey.
Ferry travel helps foodies to really push the boat out when it comes to indulging in some of the finest food on the planet, and there’s always space to bring your favourite products back home. On board Brittany Ferries, passengers can enjoy onboard fine dining restaurant before disembarking in Bilbao, just a stone’s throw from San Sebastian, a city that holds 19 Michelin stars and is renowned for its pintxos bars. A three-night stay at the Hotel Silken Amara Plaza, San Sabastian costs from £365 per person and includes ferry travel.
Every year Cowes welcomes glamourous guests to the world-famous sailing and yachting competition, so it’s no surprise that in nearby Newport, Thompson’s serves an exclusive tasting menu from £99 per person using the best produce from the Isle of Wight.
What could be more decadent than an epicurean break to France’s Champagne region, to the UNESCO cellars of Pommery, Ruinart, Veuve-Cliquot and Charles Heidsieck. Private tours of the Champagne wineries offer an insight into how the famous beverage is made and the all-important tastings. Sail with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries from Dover to Calais and drive to Reims in less than 3 hours.
Galgorm Spa © Failte Ireland
For the ultimate pampering experience, splash out on a luxury spa break. One of the best spa resorts in Northern Ireland, Galgorm boasts a thermal spa village, sail to Belfast with P&O Ferries or Stena Line. If you can’t wait to start relaxing, Stena Line passengers can book into the onboard Pure Nordic Spa.
The Netherlands boasts a culture of wellness resorts, with high end spas offering Scandinavian-style sauna and massage experiences, such as the exclusive Hotel Thermen Bussloo, which is only 90 minutes from DFDS’ ferry port near Amsterdam and less than two hours from P&O Ferries and Stena Line docks in Rotterdam and Hook of Holland.
Stylish stays by the sea
© Atout France/Nathalie Baetens, Deauville Casino
With exclusive bars, a reputation for great music and some opulent city centre hotels, Dublin is a great destination for hedonists and epicures looking to enjoy all Ireland’s capital has to offer. A private powerboat tour gives an exclusive view of Dubin Bay and neighbouring Dalkey Island and adds an extra touch of class. Sail with Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.
The islands on Scotland’s West coast offer a choice of well-appointed hotels, guest houses and glamping sites. The Beach Bothies at Uig on the Isle of Lewis offer a private cosy hideaway right by the sea. Accessible via Caledonian MacBrayne, a two-night break in mid-April for two costs £300.
A popular holiday spot for Coco Chanel, Deauville’s vintage glamour is still evident in its belle epoque architecture. Take a stroll along Les Planches, the 1920s boardwalk before visiting the grand casino or taking in a cabaret show. Travel to Caen or Cherbourg with Brittany Ferries, to Dieppe with DFDS or to Calais with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.
Water sports are a great way to indulge on a coastal break and the Isles of Scilly offer crystal clear waters and white sand beaches reminiscent of a tropical paradise. Sign up for paragliding, water-skiing or private boat tours before staying at the Hell Bay Hotel on the western shores of Bryher. Sail to St Marys from Penzance with Isles of Scilly Travel.
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