Category: Blog

Ferry great value: a two-week family holiday in France from £761

Ferry great value: a two-week family holiday in France from £761

Etretat beach, Normandy

France is the most visited holiday destination on the planet, famous for its gastronomy, culture and diverse landscapes. It is a popular choice for Brits, being only 20 miles away from England, with a range of ferry routes available to get there. As ferries allow you to bring your own vehicle, whether that’s a car or a campervan, as much luggage, liquids and sports equipment as you want, don’t charge extra for you to sit together (or roam around the decks) and even allow you to bring your pet with you, they offer great value for families wanting to go abroad this summer.

But is it possible for a family of four to have a holiday for under £1,600? We looked at peak travel dates from 17-31 August 2024 and this is what we found.

Best value: pack your tent and gear and head over to Normandy for a family beach holiday for as little as £761.

Normandy is a relaxed holiday destination with activities (and food) to please the whole family.  With its iconic cliffs at Étretat, family-friendly beaches, the Seine regional natural park and the Velomaritime coastal cycle path, there are plenty of things to do for free. This year Normandy is marking both the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy and 150 years of Impressionism with special events and exhibitions throughout the spring and summer. Add to the mix, the delights of locally produced Camembert, Calvados and fresh seafood and you have the ingredients for a memorable family holiday.  

Ferry from Dover to Calais for a car and a family of 4 from £231 with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries
Camping Domaine de La Catinière, near Honfleur https://www.camping-honfleur.com/
Pitch for tent £430 (14 nights) or for a van with electricity, £535 (14 nights).
Fuel and motorway tolls based on a hatchback family unleaded car £100.

Total: £761

No tent, no problem!

If you don’t have a tent or van then you can upgrade your stay with a Coco Unusual Nature 2-bed suite in a mobile home with terrace for £940 for the two-weeks.

Total: £1,270

Prefer a holiday cottage?

Le Theil Bocage cottage in Normandy Credit: Brittany Ferries

If camping is not your thing and you like the comfort of a proper roof over your head, a soft bed and a private bathroom then packages with Brittany Ferries which include the ferry and a cottage are available from £1,556.10 for two-weeks departing 17 August.

Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen for a standard car and family of 4 departing 17 August, staying in a detached cottage in Swiss Normandy. https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/holidays/details/qn1153/le-theil-bocage

Total: £1,556.10

Extra money saving tips from Discover Ferries:
  • Avoid toll routes to reduce the cost of driving but be aware that this adds considerable time to your journey.
  • Bring your own camping fridge and cooker and stock up at the hypermarket to save on food costs.
  • Dining out? Eat your main meal at lunch time, restaurants often have a great value plat du jour.
  • Members of the Caravanning and Motorhome Club get a discount at many campsites when booking through the club website: https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/overseas/france/normandy/le-domaine-de-la-catiniere/

Action-packed Celtic Adventures

Woman hiking next to water and ruined building

Ferry good value action-packed Celtic Adventures

Woman hiking next to water and ruined building

If you’re looking for an epic road trip or want to hike, cycle, scramble, surf or paddle board into your next adventure then Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland will be right up your street. We’ve put together our tips for how to have a great value action-packed trip.

When taking the ferry your ticket price is mainly based on the cost of your vehicle, with a small amount added for additional passengers, and includes all the luggage and sports equipment that you can fit in (or on) the car.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry ©Fáilte Ireland

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2024, the Wild Atlantic Way is known for its imposing cliffs, rugged scenery, peninsulas and islands, wildlife and national parks. This breathtaking road trip along the West Coast of Ireland is 1,600 miles long and features multiple stages over several weeks, so if you don’t have time to do the full distance then choose a section that you want to explore.

By taking the ferry and bringing your own car you’ll save on car hire and can also bring your camping gear to save on accommodation costs too. 

Many of the main attractions along the route are best seen on foot and therefore are without cost if you are prepared to walk. There are also plenty of cycle routes and some spectacular beaches to go paddle boarding or kayaking.  If you have space in your car to bring your gear with you! You’ll be rewarded with outstanding views and the satisfaction of having earned your dinner.

A return crossing for a car and 2 passengers across the Irish Sea for 1 week in May starts from £326. Routes available include Cairnryan to Belfast or Larne with Stena Line or P&O Ferries, Liverpool to Belfast with Stena Line, Holyhead to Dublin with Irish Ferries and Stena Line, Pembroke or Fishguard to Rosslare with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

Short-break adventures in the Isle of Man

©Visit Isle of Man

Off the beaten track, the Isle of Man is the hidden gem of the Irish Sea and was the first entire nation to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2016. Its unspoilt hills, glens, plantations, and coast offer an action-packed break for those looking for adventure.

Bring your hiking boots and your mountain bike to make the most of your trip. Hike up Snaefell, the Isle of Man’s highest peak, or complete a section of the challenging 100-mile coastal footpath Raad Ny Foillan (the Way of the Gull). The forests and countryside have a huge variety of bike trails, including gravel paths, purpose built single track and quiet country lanes suitable for all abilities.

Try gorge walking with Adventurous Experiences through one of the island’s stunning glens. You will scramble, climb and swim your way along the river, to deep pools and past flowing waterfalls.

The Sound, on the Southern most tip of the island is a hotspot for wildlife, with seals, basking sharks and dolphins often being spotted in the area. Stay on until night fall and you’ll be rewarded with a fabulous view of the night sky. The car park at The Sound is one of 26 registered Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Isle of Man.

Knockaloe Beg Farm offers a range of accommodation options from B&B, to self-catering cottages, glamping wigwams and a hostel-style Bunkhouse and Bothy.

A summer 5-day short break to the Isle of Man with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company costs from £135.50 each way for a car and 2 passengers.

Isle of Tiree, Scotland – The Hawaii of the North

Tiree, the western most island of the Inner Hebrides, is often called the Hawaii of the North due to its great surf and white sandy beaches. However, just a 3-hour 20 min ferry journey from Oban, Scotland, it doesn’t come with the price tag of a jaunt to Hawaii.

Tiree is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide and surprisingly, is one of the sunniest places in the UK. It may be small but boasts some big sporting events including the Tiree Wave Classic in October, the longest standing windsurfing event in the British calendar and the Tiree Ultramarathon, a 35-mile race around the circumference of the island.

For those who want to try some Hawaiian water sports a little closer to home Wild Diamond offers kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for hire and lessons in windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing.

Pro-triathlete and Tiree resident Will Wright runs Tiree Fitness, which offers beach yoga, bike hire and fitness training for all ages, as well as a relaxing massage. Well-deserved after all that exercise!

Tiree Campsite offers budget accommodation options. You can pitch your tent or your van, or you can stay in an on-site Pod or Bothy, which are available to hire from £40 per person per night.

Sail to Tiree from Oban with Caledonian MacBrayne. A adult return ferry ticket costs £24.90. A car or campervan costs £135.90 return. Journey time takes between 3 hours 20 mins and 3 hours 50 mins.

Ferry great value-packed day trips

Couple on Scillonian III with their dog

Ferry great value-packed day trips

If you’re looking for a change of scene and an affordable way to get that holiday feeling, then a day trip by ferry transports you away from the every day. Relax on board with your travel companions, grab a coffee and look out at the spectacular views. You might even spot some wildlife!

The Thames London, where the journey is the experience!

See Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Naval College and The O2 in Greenwich and the Thames Barrier from the best viewpoint and all in the same day. The family River Roamer ticket with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers lets you hop on and hop off the River Bus service as much as you want and up to 3 children travel for free with the family ticket. Combine with free entry into museums such as Queen’s House, Royal Maritime Museum, Museum of London’s Docklands and the Tate galleries or a wander through Greenwich Park or Battersea Park and you’ll have a great value day out!

Family River Roamer day tickets cost £44.20 for 2 adults and up to 3 children (Aged 5-15. Children under 5 travel free of charge.)

Pre-historic stone circles, the ruins of a medieval church, listed loos and secluded beaches on the Isle of Bute

Rothesay, Isle of Bute

Just 35 mins from Wemyss Bay in the Firth of Clyde, and an easy train ride from Glasgow, the Isle of Bute is the most accessible of Scotland’s islands. There are plenty of free activities for a day trip and Caledonian MacBrayne’s Road Equivalent Pricing means it is purse-friendly too. Bring your bicycles on board for free and you’ll be able to see even more of the island.

Arrive at Rothesay harbourside and make a quick stop at the listed loos. The Victorian gents’ toilets have marble furnishings, mosaic floors and decorative ceramic tiled walls and are testament to the longevity of Victorian design. As a functioning public convenience, ladies wanting to take a peek can ask the attendant to knock on the door first.

Head south to Kingarth where to explore the beautifully preserved ruins of St Blane’s church. The nave and part of the chancel date from the 12th century. The church has an upper and lower churchyard where men and women were buried respectively. Pre-dating St Blane, the pre-historic stone circle – The Devil’s Cauldron – can also be visited.

End your day with a walk along the secluded beach of Scalpsie Bay from where you can see stunning views across to Arran. It’s also home to a resident seal colony!

An adult return ticket to Rothesay from Wemyss Bay costs £7.60 with Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries. All other activities mentioned are free of charge.

Get the most out of a day on the Isle of Wight

Bembridge Pier © Visit Isle of Wight

Passenger ferry services to the Isle of Wight are quick and frequent and all have rail connectivity, allowing you to make the most of your day on the island, without the need for a car. If you like getting around by bicycle you can even bring your bike on board, free of charge.

Hovertravel, the only scheduled passenger hovercraft service in Europe, is the fastest way to arrive on the Isle of Wight. The service from Southsea to Ryde takes just 10 minutes and is a unique experience in its own right. Feel the skirt inflate before ‘flying’ at speed above the waters of the Solent.  

FastCat services from Portsmouth to Ryde Pier with Wightlink take 22 minutes and RedJet services from Southampton to Cowes with Red Funnel take less than 30 minutes.

The island has lots of free activities including exploring its many beaches and coves, searching for dinosaur fossils (the Isle of Wight is the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe) along the coast between Compton and Atherfield and spotting red squirrels in the woodlands.

For a bit of history visit the ancient former lighthouse, St Catherine’s Oratory and Appuldurcombe House, a partly restored 18th century baroque mansion with grounds designed by Capability Brown.

Discover more about the great work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who are celebrating their 200th anniversary this year, at Bembridge Lifeboat Station. It is classed as a RNLI ‘discover’ station, where volunteers give you a tour of the station and is located at the end of the Bembridge’s iconic pier.

The award-winning Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a great place to meet, interact and learn more about the donkeys, ponies and mules that have been given a home by the sanctuary. There are free tours available, but if you want to contribute to the work of the charity you can also book activities such as grooming and pampering.

Adult day return tickets cost between £12.90-£31.50 on Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink.
Family day return tickets (for 2 adults and 3 children) cost £78 on
Hovertravel, £44.90 with Red Funnel and from £57.50 with Wightlink.

4-hours in…..

St Mary’s, the Isles of Scilly

Scilly-St. Mary’s-little girl sitting on a rock overlooking Porthcressa Beach © Visit Isles of Scilly

Cornwall is one of the UKs most popular holiday destinations, however few holidaymakers know that the Isles of Scilly are within easy reach on a daytrip from Penzance. Early sailings leave Penzance at 09:15 arriving in St Mary’s by noon, giving visitors 4-hours to spend exploring the 2.54 square miles of St Mary’s.

For a budget-friendly day out, walk from the quayside to the Garrison Wall to explore the old fortifications of the island, stop off in Hugh Town for a bite to eat or bring your own picnic to eat on Porthmellon or Porthcressa beach, before or after a dip! If there’s time, the lighthouse at Peninnis Head is well worth the 30 minutes’ walk.

Marine wildlife charity ORCA has named the crossing from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly as the ferry route with the UK’s highest diversity route for wildlife spotting. Over 600 common dolphins were spotted in 2023 so keep your eyes peeled! Also don’t miss local landmarks such as Land’s End and the Minack Theatre. The journey is definitely part of the trip.

Day return tickets on the Scillonian III cost from £35 for adults (Age 12 and over) and £17.50 for children (2-11) with Isles of Scilly Travel

Guernsey, the Channel Islands

Victor Hugo’s Hauteville House © Visit Guernsey

The crossing with Condor Ferries fast ferry service from Poole to Guernsey takes 3 hours, with great views of Brownsea Island, Sandbanks and the Dorset coastline as you leave England’s white cliffs behind. Have breakfast on board and make the most of Duty-Free shopping savings. Sailings leave in the morning, so you’ll arrive in St Peter’s Port around noon during weekdays, or earlier at the weekend.

Once in St Peter’s Port, you can explore the winding streets of the island’s capital. Guernsey offers tax-free shopping so there are plenty of opportunities to save on gadgets and goods. Take in the spectacular views from Candie Gardens over the neighbouring islands. A walk to the south of the town will bring you to Vallette Bathing Pools, a cluster of tidal pools built 150 years ago for safe swimming.

Although not a free attraction, art lovers won’t want to miss Hauteville House, where writer and poet Victor Hugo spent his exile and wrote many of his masterpieces, including Les Misérables. The house itself is a work of art and was designed by Victor Hugo himself.

If you’d prefer to save your pennies and visit a quirkier work of art, then take the bus to the Little Chapel, a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica in Lourdes, France. Brother Deodat started creating the chapel in 1914 but demolished it twice before you building the version which still stands today.

An adult day-return to Guernsey with Condor Ferries costs £38. A day return for 2 adults and 2 children costs £132.

Unforgettable ferry journeys to put a spring in your step

Unforgettable ferry journeys to put a spring in your step

Is travel and adventure at the top of your bucket list? If you’re keen to try something different and enjoy unforgettable experiences, discover the joy of ferry travel this Easter.

Ditch the queues at airport security, the view of the back of someone’s head and the bun fight for baggage collection for the freedom of ferry travel and the most stunning sea views. The changing of the clocks also brings more opportunities to spot the marine mammals that live around our shores, check out our interactive wildlife map to discover the species you could see from different ferry routes.

Inspired? Here are our top 10 picks for the best springtime journeys in British waters.

  • Penzance to St Mary’s

The seasonal ferry to the Isles of Scilly begins its 2024 timetable in March. For the second year in a row, marine wildlife charity ORCA has named the crossing from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly as the ferry route with the UK’s highest diversity route for wildlife spotting. Marine surveyors recorded sightings of 645 animals during 2023, and common dolphins were sighted during almost every survey. Humpbacks, bottlenose dolphins, basking sharks, seals and porpoises were also spotted. For a complete wildlife experience, visitors can also snorkel with seals when they arrive in the Isles of Scilly.

Sail on the Scillonian III with Isles of Scilly Travel.

  • Poole to Guernsey
South Coast Beach, Petit Port, Guernsey

Escape to the sun-drenched shores of Guernsey, which enjoys warmer spring weather than the rest of the British Isles. With golden beaches, spectacular cliff walks and exotic fauna, this jewel in the Channel could be mistaken for a far-flung paradise. While Guernsey’s history, culture and picturesque landscapes could fill a number of days, travellers short on time can visit the island in a day. The fast ferry from Poole takes 3 hours to reach St Peter Port. During the journey, grab refreshments, buy your favourite Duty-Free goods or relax in the comfortable lounge and take in the sea views – look out for dolphins!

Make the trip with Condor Ferries.

  • South Whisky Island Hopping in The Hebrides

For whisky enthusiasts there’s no better way to experience the skill, craftsmanship and dedication that go into making Scotland’s favourite tipple than by sea. While most distilleries in the Hebrides offer tours and tastings, we recommend taking the ferry from Ardrossan to Arran for the Lochranza and Lagg sister distilleries before heading to the Kintyre peninsula. Campbelltown was once a whisky smuggling centre, now it’s home to Springbank, Scotland’s oldest independent family-owned distillery. Next stop is Islay, dubbed the Whisky Isle for its nine working distilleries including Ardbeg, Bowmore and Laphroaig. 

On the journey with Caledonian MacBrayne, you might glimpse Minke whales, dolphins and porpoises as well as sea birds and spectacular views of the Scottish Isles. Travelling as the days get longer increases your chance of seeing wildlife on the trip.

  • Dover to France

If the last time you crossed the Channel was on a school trip, you’re missing out. Still the best way to see the White Cliffs of Dover, it is also one of the easiest ways to reach Western Europe. Modern ferries are equipped with a variety of ways to spend the journey including dining in the restaurant and even spending time with your dog in the Pet Lounge*. Don’t forget to take advantage of Duty-Free, selling all your favourite brands of cosmetics, beers, wines and spirits and, in case you need to stock up on Easter chocolate, confectionery.

Make sure you head out on deck when docking at Calais – there is also a cheeky family of seals that basks in the port. Sail with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.

  • Sail along the Thames

Travelling on one of the most famous rivers in the world provides a unique perspective on London. Not only does travelling on the River Bus avoid traffic and crowded underground platforms but it also takes in the city’s top landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Battersea Power Station and the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

Hop on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.  

  • The Irish Sea

Immerse yourself in Irish culture with a trip to the Emerald Isle. Fantastic rail connections to the ports and combined Rail-Sail tickets available through Irish Ferries and Stena Line, also make car-free breaks easier than ever before. The children’s play area, gaming rooms, cafes and restaurants will keep you entertained on the journey. Fancy unwinding further? Upgrade to the premium lounge or on Stena Line’s Cairnryan to Belfast route you can even enjoy a massage or time in the onboard spa* to feel extra refreshed on arrival.

Take in views of the Irish and British coastline and look out for puffins, which start nesting from April and remain one of the best-loved bird breeds to inhabit the shore. Travel with Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.

  • The Bay of Biscay

A world hotspot for marine wildlife and birdlife, over one-third of the world’s whale and dolphin species pass through here. From March to September, Ocean Conservationists from marine conservation charity ORCA are based on board selected Brittany Ferries sailings. They deliver informative and engaging presentations about the marine mammals passengers can see on the journey. They also host deck watches to help passengers spot whales and dolphins as well as bird life. If you’re lucky, you might spot a fin whale, the second largest animal on the planet.

  • The Solent

The crossing to the Isle of Wight may be short but there’s plenty to see. From Portsmouth’s the landmark Spinnaker Tower, named the “Sail of the Solent” to arriving in Cowes, home to one of the oldest sailing regattas in the world travelling by ferry provides unique views. Enjoy the sights while indulging in a cream tea or sampling locally sourced snacks, some ferries even provide doggy treats for four-legged passengers to enjoy in the pet lounge*. Sail with Red Funnel or Wightlink.

Looking for a unique experience? Take a flight on Hovertravel from Southsea to Ryde, the world’s only commercial hovercraft service.

  • Isle of Man

Travel on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s new ship Manxman from Heysham to Douglas. The ship has light and airy interiors and is equipped with new facilities including a large open lounge area, a coffee shop, a restaurant and bar area. Due to the increased number of cyclists and pets travelling, the new ship features a bigger area for bikes and dedicated pet lounges.

Watch the departure from Heysham from the seating area at the stern of the ship and look out for landmarks including Blackpool Tower en route and the Tower of Refuge, a small island castle, as you approach the dock in Douglas.

  • The North Sea
DFDS Bistro Dinner

Crossing from the UK to the Netherlands by sea feels like the start of your holiday. A longer crossing means a bigger ship with more facilities. Choose to grab a bite to eat from the family-friendly buffet or enjoy fine dining in the a la carte restaurants before returning to your en suite cabin to rest. As well as a games room and live entertainment on board there is even a cinema. Watch the sun rise over the Netherlands and use the daylight to observe dolphins and whales from deck.

Cross the North Sea with DFDS, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.

*Available on selected ferries

10 alternatives to popular destinations for adventures away from the crowds

If you like that, you’ll love this…
10 alternatives to popular destinations for adventures away from the crowds

Seeking adventure, exploration and the opportunity to visit somewhere off the beaten track in 2024? Want to avoid stifling southern European heatwaves, crowded beaches and the fight to take a selfie from the optimal spot?

With so many fantastic destinations accessible via British waters, ferry operators are proving that you don’t need to go too far afield and you can explore new holiday destinations where you can still enjoy your favourite activities. By avoiding popular destinations, additional air travel costs for luggage, transfers and extras, you can get a lot more for your money and even save on your next trip.

10 alternatives to the UK’s favourite holidays

If you like Center Parcs, you’ll love Sunparks

Credit: Plopsa parks

With two sites in Belgium, a trip to Sunparks holiday villages will give you a new experience and save some pounds. Facilities include a spa and wellness centre, an indoor kids’ playground, family-friendly cycle routes and tropical swimming zone, Aquafun. Continue the family fun at theme park Plopsaland de Panne, which has rides for little ones and big kids. Tickets start from €18 for children between 85cm and 99cm and from €48.50 for adults – discounts are available when booking online.

Sail to Belgium via the Channel or through the Netherlands with DFDS, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.

If you like island hopping in Greece, you’ll love discovering the Channel Islands

Credit: Visit Jersey

Swap the high temperatures and expense of visiting Greece to explore the five islands of Guernsey. Travel between each island is easy, each location has a unique personality and, with the most hours of sunshine in the British Isles, the climate is pleasant, perfect for a fantastic island-hopping adventure.

Sail to Guernsey, the biggest island in the Bailiwick, with Condor Ferries to start your trip with fantastic fresh food and local cider. Alderney is home to historical sites and a haven for birdwatchers. To disconnect from the world, stop in Sark, considered the jewel of the Channel Islands, this island has no cars and was named the world’s first Dark Sky Island. Herm boasts white sandy beaches and views of the French coastline as well as frequent visits from dolphins, whereas Lihou offers unspoilt beauty, as it is only accessible at certain times of the month via a tidal causeway.

If you like beach holidays, you’ll love sunbathing on the Isles of Scilly

Blessed with white sands and crystal blue waters, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this Cornish archipelago for a tropical paradise. The surrounding shores are teeming with marine life and dotted with shipwrecks, making the area great for diving. For a real Robinson Crusoe-like escape from reality, discover one of the uninhabited islands. Thanks to a history of trade and smuggling, treasures still wash up on the beaches so turn a stroll on the sands into a beachcombing mission.

Sail to St Mary’s with Isles of Scilly Travel.

If you like a physical challenge, you’ll love the Vélomaritime

This 1,500km cycle route spans from Roscoff in Brittany to Dunkirk on the Belgian border, making it easy to cycle straight onto from the ferry whether you land in Brittany, Normandy, Calais or Dunkirk. The route takes in the Pink Granite Coast, the mystical gravity-defying Abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel and the D-Day landing sites. The itinerary can be adapted to suit beginners and young families or more advanced cyclists looking to combine their favourite pastime with great French food and a little culture.

Travel to France with Brittany Ferries, Condor Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.

If you love following your favourite team, you’ll love catching an ice hockey game in Belfast

Credit: Stena Line Belfast Giants

Sports fans will leap at the chance to catch a Stena Line Belfast Giants ice hockey match in the city’s Titanic Quarter. A game will also appeal to romance readers, as Booktok has popularised hockey player male leads and fuelled sales for bestselling novels such as Icebreaker. The sport has captured Northern Irish hearts thanks to its political neutrality and provides the drama and excitement sports lovers crave.  Sail into Belfast from Liverpool with Stena Line or travel on the Cairnryan to Larne route with P&O Ferries.

If you like stargazing, you’ll love the Isle of Man

Tranquil, rural and limited light pollution, the Isle of Man has 26 official Dark Sky sites. Astronomical sights such as the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way Galaxy and the Great Andromeda Galaxy can all be seen by the naked eye, with more to discover through a telescope. For celestial bliss, choose accommodation that is part of the Stargazers Welcome Scheme, which provides equipment including binoculars, a torch and maps. Sail to the island with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.  

If you like hiking in the Lake District, you’ll love the Wicklow Mountains

The largest of Ireland’s national parks, Wicklow Mountains is also one of the most beautiful. South of Dublin, there is plenty to do from hiking, cycling and rock climbing to exploring historic monastic ruins. Neighbouring campsites provide great value accommodation close to the peaks and travelling by ferry means you can easily take your caravan or camping equipment across. Sail with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

If you like city breaks, you’ll love sipping cocktails in London’s luxury hotels

Credit: Sebastian Coman Photography, Unsplash

2024 sees several new hotels opening in the capital including the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair, The Emory and Park Hyatt London River Thames. However, budget-conscious visitors can still indulge alongside the city’s high society. Rather than splashing out on a luxury stay, a cocktail in a swanky bar or an out-of-this-world afternoon tea is a purse-friendly way to taste the finer things in life.

Avoid the crowds of the underground and the expense of taxis and tour the city by water on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. You can even grab a glass of bubbles on board! Get a River Roamer ticket to hop on and off along the river and take in some of the city’s oldest sights and free museums before doing a spot of window shopping.

If you like gin tasting, you’ll love this distillery tour in the Hebrides

Some of the best brands behind Scotland’s most famous export – whisky – are based in the Hebrides. The islands’ sparkling clean water, diverse landscapes and peat bogs influence the flavour profile of each spirit giving visitors a distinct experience at each distillery. Islay’s Three Distillery Walk is a pleasant pathway from Port Ellen to Ardbeg, Lagavulin and the world-renowned Laphroaig distilleries where sampling is a must. Not a whisky fan? There is also a burgeoning gin industry and, on neighbouring Jura, the Deer Island Distillery produces rum.

Sail to Scotland’s west coast islands with Caledonian MacBrayne.

If you like pre-historic sights, track dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight

Studies have shown that children who love dinosaurs have higher intelligence, so foster kids’ curiosity with a trip to the Isle of Wight, which has some of Britain’s best fossil hunting sites. To find dinosaur bones, head to the south of the island, which date back to the cretaceous period. Whereas Newtown and Bembridge in the north hold ancient mammal fossils including mammoths. Visit Compton Beach, where at low tide you can follow dinosaur footprints. Sail to the Isle of Wight with Red Funnel or Wightlink or take a take a trip on Hovertravel, the world’s only commercial hovercraft route, which flies across the Solent in less than 10 minutes!

We have also launched an online quiz to help match you to your perfect alternative destination. Take part and enter the prize draw for a free ferry crossing.

10 romantic ferry trips

Set sail on the Love Boat with these 10 romantic ferry trips

Love is in the (sea) air this year. 2024 is also leap year, which is considered good luck for couples tying the knot and 29th February is the day traditionally set aside for when women can get down on one knee and propose (if you need an extra incentive). With unique experiences, intimate environments and privacy high on lovers’ wish lists, ferry travel offers an escape from cramped aeroplanes and crowded stations. There are also plenty of opportunities to capture dreamy selfies on deck to announce your love to the world.

So whether you’re looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, an engagement or a mini-moon, look no further than these ferry romantic getaways.

Take a “Valenthames” cruise

Board the city’s most romantic mode of transport  – The Uber Love Boat by Thames Clippers – the perfect start to any date night. Enjoy an hour-long sailing through the heart of London and take in its famous landmarks whilst listening to live music and sipping on a glass of bubbles. Depart from Canary Wharf Pier at 18.15 on 14th February.

The “Engagement” Ring of Kerry

In Ireland, 29th February is called Bachelor’s Day or Ladies’ Privilege as the custom for women proposing originates from the legend of St Bridget and St Patrick. Rather than offer a diamond ring (or the traditional Claddagh ring), why not drive the scenic Kerry Ring along the Wild Atlantic Way and enjoy breathtaking views, charming villages and ancient ruins? You can stop en route to kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck – although if the proposal is declined, ladies should be gifted gloves or a silk gown!

Sail to Rosslare with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

Love at First Flight

The world’s only year-round scheduled passenger hovercraft service is launching a new romantic-themed experience for couples. A special VIP flight will take off on Sunday 18th February. Guests will be welcomed with Champagne and Chocolates while taking in exceptional views of the Solent from the balcony at the terminal. Great for couples looking for something completely different, the hovercraft will perform 360 degree turns and a host of manoeuvres never usually seen on the regular scheduled service. Book now with Hovertravel.

Cuddle up on Coll

Credit Airborne Lens Mark Craig

If your idea of a romantic break is peaceful seclusion, head to Coll. The island is a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from the mainland but feels like a world away. Its Dark Sky status makes it perfect for stargazing and take a front row seat for one of the best shows in the universe. Cosy up at the Coll Hotel, where guests can dine on dishes made from the best of Scotland’s larder, including lobster, crab and langoustine. Catch the ferry from Oban with Caledonian MacBrayne.

Find fulfilment on the Isle of Man

The heart of the British Isles, the Isle of Man offers plenty of outdoor pursuits for active couples who love a challenge. Conquer fears, face challenges and boost your adrenaline levels during a romantic break together at The Venture Centre, which has a high ropes course, archery, air rifle target practice, axe throwing and cross bow shooting. You can follow up with an interactive treasure hunt around Douglas. Go Quest Adventure runs a self-guided sightseeing tour with an escape room element that starts from the Sea Terminal. Travel with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Double dip in Deauville

This fashionable seaside resort on France’s western coast retains a quiet elegance that suits a romantic weekend. Sea bathing is celebrated with beautiful Art Deco changing cabins, the Pompeiian baths and an Olympic-sized pool filled with sea water (heated to a balmy 28°C). Indulge in a sea therapy spa treatment followed by a massage for two at the Algotherm Thalasso Centre or the Esprit de Spa. The rom com A man and a woman was directed from Hotel Normandy, just a stone’s throw from the historic boardwalk!

Get to Deauville with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries, or sail from the Channel Islands with Condor Ferries.

Admire diamonds in Antwerp

The diamond capital of the world, this Belgian city has been central to the international gem trade since the 15th Century. 85% of the world’s rough diamonds and half of all polished stones pass through the city’s Diamond District meaning you can find some of the best deals on quality stones here. Whether you’re window shopping or making a grand purchase, celebrate with dinner for two at the trendy Restaurant Le John before sampling local Trappist beers from the extensive bar menu at Billie’s Bier. Sail via France or the Netherlands with DFDS, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.

A romantic treetop break on the Isle of Wight

Head to the Isle of Wight for an intimate treehouse stay in this forest idyll. There are plenty of walking routes for you to enjoy views over The Needles, the white cliffs and the woodlands. After a day enjoying the great outdoors, spend evenings cosied up next to the wood burning stove passing time together – the treehouses are equipped with books, puzzles and board games.  Explore the many eateries in Yarmouth and Cowes or order in deliveries of fabulous local produce and homecooked takeaways. Sail across with Red Funnel or Wightlink.

Aphrodisiacs in Jersey

© Visit Jersey

Seymour Oyster in the Channel Islands offers Champagne and Oyster Tours so visitors can sample these foods of love. Learn about oyster farming and experience the oyster beds set in crystal clear environment, which shifts with the tides. Why not splash out and stay at the Royal Yacht Hotel? The hotel has an award-winning spa a relaxing sauna, aromatherapy room and spa bath. The penthouse suites have a balcony with hot tub so you can take a dip under the stars.

Sail to Jersey with Condor Ferries.

Honeymoon in the Isles of Scilly

Strapped for time, why not book now and travel later? Treat your loved one to an exotic escape to the Isles of Scilly, which has white sandy beaches and beautiful landscapes perfect for honeymooners or couples looking for a secluded getaway. To make it even more memorable, keep your eyes peeled for whales, dolphins and marine life from the decks of Scillonian III – named the UK’s best ferry route for wildlife spotting in 2022. Sail away from March to November.

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 The ferry best vegan and vegetarian destinations

Plating a vegan dish

The “Ferry” Best Vegan and Vegetarian Destinations

Plating a vegan dish

Whether you are a life-long vegan, turning over a new leaf or simply looking to reduce your meat intake for health and environmental reasons, you may wonder how easy it is to find food that suits your lifestyle when travelling.

Where food is available on board vegetarians and vegans can enjoy a multitude of refreshments. From a la carte dining options such as vegan and veggie breakfasts, curries, pastas and burgers, to quick bites such as sandwiches, baps, pies and muffins. For those who just have time for a coffee then plant-based milk alternatives are also available.

To allay any food fears while travelling to ferry destinations we’ve put together our suggestions of where you can get delicious plant-based and vegetarian fayre.

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Proving that veganism is not always healthy, Dutch chefs are experimenting with plant-based junk food. Vegan Junk Food Bar has opened several venues across Amsterdam and spread to locations including Rotterdam, Cologne and even Barcelona. Choose from dishes including loaded freak fries, burgers, cocktails and Betterballs, a reimagined version of the traditionally meaty Dutch bar snack, Bitterballen. Love avocado – you can’t miss the Instagram-worthy dishes at The Avocado Show. For high-end dining try the tasting menu at plant forward restaurant, Yerba, brainchild of Hoxton Hotel founder, Walter Marskamp.

Sail away with DFDS, P&O Ferries or Stena Line.

  • Bilbao, Spain
Vegetable Rolls, Photo by Charles Duck on Unsplash

While traditionally known for Jamon Serrano and Manchego, vegans and vegetarian will be surprised by the number of options they find in the Basque capital. La Camelia claims to be the best vegan and vegetarian restaurant in the city serving a mix of Spanish, Asian and Middle Eastern inspired dishes including the popular vegetable sushi rolls. The baked goods at Bohemian Lane are 100% vegan and homemade with many ingredients locally sourced. Amorino serves a range of vegan ice cream and sorbet flavours from mango and strawberry to chocolate and lime & basil. For a taste of the city’s pintxos culture, head to Twiggy.

Sail to Bilbao with Brittany Ferries.

  • Champagne, France
Wine tasting in Champagne. Photo by Jennifer Yung at Unsplash

French cuisine may be famed for its heavy use of butter and cream but vegan options are starting to appear on menus in France’s smaller towns. Veg o Resto is a useful guide to all vegan restaurants in France. Visitors to Champagne can stay at the Mostarlic Vegan and Gluten Free B&B, where guests can enjoy treats made by the owner Samantha, a former baker, and even experience cooking lessons. There are also plenty of vegan Champagne producers in the region – check the label but some, including Champagne Legret et Fils practice vegan viticulture and welcome visitors to their vineyards and cellar doors for tastings.

Cross the Channel with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.

  • Douglas, Isle of Man
Port Erin at Sunset, Photo by James Qualtrough on Unsplash

Popular with walkers, cyclists and active travellers, many restaurants and cafes on the Isle of Man have developed menus that will nourish hungry visitors.

VIBE is a plant-based café close to Douglas’ harbour front that promotes Vibrant, Inspiring, Beautiful Eating with a menu packed with superfoods. Dishes feature herbs and edible flowers grown in the roof garden and foraged berries and ingredients from local suppliers. Free-from refined sugars and GMOs, diners can indulge at any time of the day and leave feeling well-fed. The Eatery has a dedicated menu for nourishing visitors with a range of veggie and vegan dishes including the Hawaiian Waikiki bowl and plant-based salads.

If you’re exploring Port Erin, drop into Versa, a zero-waste restaurant with sustainability at its core. Using local and foraged ingredients, the menu changes seasonally and diners must make a reservation to keep the restaurant’s footprint as small as possible.

Get to Douglas with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

  • Dublin, Ireland

More than a fifth of the city’s restaurants are classified as vegan-friendly, more than any other city, making Dublin the world’s vegan capital. With vegetarian and vegan eateries including the Californian-inspired NutButter at Grand Canal Dock and Glas off Grafton Street and the Middle-Eastern Shouk, it’s clear the city’s chefs are putting vegetables front and centre.

Sail to the city with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

  • Isle of Arran, Scotland
Holy Isle, Photo by Monika Thoms on Unsplash

Stonewater House is a vegan bed & breakfast on the Isle of Arran, overlooking Lamlash pier and Holy Isle – the UK’s only Buddhist island. Start the day with Overnight oats, a hearty cooked breakfast with vegan haggis and whisky cream sauce or a TLT (maple tofu “bacon”, lettuce and tomato) before exploring the island. Dubbed Scotland in miniature, the island features diverse landscapes from lush glens to mountains and craggy coastlines – the B&B also offers vegan packed lunches for walkers and cyclists.

Of course, Scotland’s favourite nip – whisky – is vegan and, if you’re there for Burns Night, there is even a Veganuary Festival on 27th January!

Get there with Caledonian MacBrayne, the terminal is just three miles from Stonewater House.

  • Isle of Wight, England
Veggie Wellington at The Crab & Lobster Inn

There is an abundance of vegan and veggie food options on the Isle of Wight. The Garlic Farm serves dishes such as miso aubergine, spiced cous cous and seasonal vegetable risotto, all flavoured with farm-grown garlic including the Island’s signature Black Garlic. Peach Vegan Kitchen and Zero Waste Store serves fantastic plant-based breakfasts and sandwiches and also sells a range of planet-friendly products. The Crab & Lobster Inn also serves a stand out vegetarian Sunday roast!

Hop across the Solent with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink.

  • Isles of Scilly, England

From 12-24 September a 10-day food festival runs across the archipelago. Visitors to Taste of Scilly Festival can experience the islands’ low food mile and slow food culture,  sampling mouthwatering, authentic food and drink. As well as locally-caught fish, an increasing number of plant-based options are featuring on menus. From beach BBQs and island-hopping supper safaris to vineyard tours and gin tastings there is something to suit every palate.

Head to St Mary’s on the Scillonian with Isles of Scilly Travel.

  • London, England
Lambeth Bridge, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

With cuisines from across the world, visitors can feast on foods that will wow the palate and suit any and all dietary needs. Chino Latino makes tastebuds tingle by lacing Pan-Asian dishes with Peruvian flavours, which are being showcased in a Veganuary-inspired set menu. The multi-award-winning restaurant and Latino cocktail bar is a stone’s throw from Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ Millbank Millenium Pier. Fancy something indulgent afterwards? Dark Sugars Cocao House in Greenwich offers artisan handcrafted chocolates and vegan treats to fulfil all yuor chocolate cravings. 

  • St Helier, Jersey

With some of the British Isles’ best fresh produce within reach, Jersey’s capital has a fantastic food scene. Samphire is a relaxed fine dining restaurant with a dedicated veggie and vegan menu. The Sinful Vegan is Jersey’s first-ever dedicated vegan eatery and prides itself on 100% cruelty-free, plant-based menu, as well as mezze platters, f*sh and chips it boasts an impressive burger and hotdawg list. In the evening, visit Awabi, which has just entered the Michelin Guide for bringing the atmosphere of Asia’s late-night drinking dens to the Channel Islands – think European wine bar with pan Asian bites.

Sail to St Helier with Condor Ferries.

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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.

France

Normandy

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

Beaches

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.


Ireland

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

Waterford

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.


London

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.

Save or Splash Out – great value ferry holidays

Save or Splash Out – great value ferry holidays

Save

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

© Adgestone The Camping and Caravanning Club Site

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 travel between the Tate Modern and Tate Britain on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ river bus services.

Home-stays off the beaten track

Holiday Cottage France

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; 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.

Splash out

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.

Gloat-worthy gastronomy

©David Griffen Photography Robert Thompson

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.

Splendid spas

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.