Thinking about taking your motorbike on holiday? Travelling via ferry is an easy and affordable option, and with Discover Ferries’ 12 members offering over 80 routes there are numerous destinations you can visit.
Nick Broomhall, Communications Manager for the Motorcycle Industry Association says: “A motorcycle is one of the best ways to travel, whether you are planning a trans-Sahara expedition or something more modest, as nothing else gets you so close to the sights, sounds and smells of the world around you. We are fortunate in the UK to have a selection of tremendous roads, sights and food just a short ferry trip away, so there is something for any rider on almost any bike.”
Discover Ferries has partnered with the Motorcycle Industry Association to create the following useful guide for taking your motorbike on holiday via ferry.
Before You Travel
- Holidaying with a motorbike is easy. Most ferries accept motorbike bookings as standard, through the same procedure as booking transport for a car or lorry. Simply specify the type of vehicle whilst booking, input the model and registration number, and check-in as normal.
- It is recommended by all operators that you buy your ticket as early as possible to ensure there is space available.
- Test the anchor points you will be using to secure your bike in the vehicle hold, so there is no risk of them becoming disconnected.
- If you’re holidaying abroad, you will be subject to the traffic laws of the country you are travelling in, so do your homework before you leave and make sure you know what to expect.
- Also before you depart, make sure your bike is in good shape and that it complies with the regulations for the country you are travelling to.
- Pack a basic toolkit and first aid kit for any nasty surprises.
- Plan your route, or at least have an idea of where you’d like to go, so you don’t try and do too many miles in a day and allow for any unexpected delays.
- If you’re travelling abroad, it’s a good idea to purchase an International Driving Permit from the Post Office or the AA, which will show your entitlements in a number of languages. European Breakdown Cover and repatriation for your motorcycle is certainly worth considering too.
Check-in & boarding
- When boarding, watch out for slippery surfaces, especially on the ramps connecting the pier to the boat, and brake gently to avoid accidents.
- Vehicles are boarded according to size and type, so be patient during the process, as you may find other vehicles moving ahead of you to ensure all can fit.
- Once on board, you need to secure your bike. Doing so is simple. All ferry lines will provide you with straps to use during check-in, though you are free to bring your own: just place your bike in first gear, park it with the side stand, switch off the alarm and lash your bike to the secure points provided. The crew will check all vehicles are secure before the ship departs, and will be on–hand to provide support and assistance, so there is no need to worry about your pride and joy. Some ferry providers even secure your bike for you, especially on high-speed lines.
- Don’t forget to keep your passport and tickets easily accessible when you check-in, as having to dig them out from the bottom of your tank bag causes unnecessary delays.
- Remember to carry a change of clothes and anything else you may require up to the cabin for use when on board to make the journey more comfortable, as you won’t be able to access your bike during the journey.
On the road
- If you are unfamiliar with riding on the “wrong” side of the road, put a sticker on your bike to remind you. Pay particular attention when leaving petrol stations, as your instinct could get you into trouble.
- Remember that speed limits are not only different abroad but they will be shown in kph, so you will need to focus on the smaller print on your speedo unless it is electronic and can be switched across to kph.
- Note that European riders acknowledge each other with their right hand held out at knee height. Get ready to do the same!
- If riding on the continent, think right, look left!
Ferry company policies
Brittany Ferries accepts motorbikes as standard on all its routes to France and Spain, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. Motorbikes are stored on the car deck and the crew are trained to help safely secure them. To find out more and view a useful video showing you the experience of putting a bike on board, visit www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/guides/ferry-travel/travelling-with-a-motorbike. For touring inspiration, visit www.brittanyferries.co.uk/guides/motorbike-touring and www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/holidays/car-motorcycle-tours
Caledonian MacBrayne accepts motorbike bookings as standard on all its routes in the West Coast of Scotland, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. We strongly recommend that you book in advance as space may be limited. Motorcyclists can only be positioned and secured on the car deck under CalMac staff supervision. To find out more, visit www.calmac.co.uk
Condor Ferries accepts motorbikes as standard on all its routes to the Channel Islands and France, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. Motorbikes are stored on the car deck and the crew are trained to help safely secure them. To find out more, visit www.condorferries.co.uk/advice-info/booking-the-right-vehicle/travelling-by-motorbike/
DFDS accepts motorbikes on its routes to France and Amsterdam, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. Motorbikes are stored on the car deck and the crew are trained to help safely secure them. To find out more and view an instructional video for travelling with a motorbike, visit www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/ferry-routes/ferry-to-france/ferries-with-a-motorcycle
Irish Ferries accepts motorbike bookings as standard on all its routes, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. On its cruise vessels – MV Ulysses, MV Isle of Inishmore, MV Epsilon and MV Oscar Wilde – securing equipment is provided to bikers. Due to the high speed nature of the HSC Dublin Swift, members of the deck crew will secure motorbikes on board themselves. To view Irish Ferries’ helpful guide on its motorbike boarding procedure, visit player.vimeo.com/video/98453765?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&color=00954e&autoplay=1. For more information, visit www.irishferries.com
P & O Ferries accepts motorbike bookings as standard on all its routes to Calais, Dublin, Larne Rotterdam, and Zeebrugge, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. Motorbikes are stored on the car deck and the crew are trained to help safely secure them. To find out more, visit www.poferries.com
Red Funnel accepts motorbike bookings as standard on its vehicle ferry service from Southampton to East Cowes, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per motorbike. Motorbikes are stored on the vehicle deck and the crew are trained to help safely secure them. Its Red Jet route between Southampton and West Cowes is for foot passengers only. For more information, visit www.redfunnel.co.uk
Stena Line accepts motorbikes on all its services to Ireland and Holland, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. Motorbikes are stored on the car deck and the crew are trained to help safely secure them. To watch superbike champion Tommy Hill demonstrate how to secure a motorbike when travelling with Stena Line to Holland using 6 simple steps, visit www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry-to-holland/plan-your-trip/travelling-with-a-motorbike/securing-your-motorcycle-onboard. For more information, visit www.stenaline.co.uk
Wightlink accepts motorbike bookings as standard on its routes between Portsmouth and Fishbourne, and Lymington and Yarmouth, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. The route between Portsmouth and Ryde is for foot passengers only. There is no charge for an additional passenger. Visit www.wightlink.co.uk for more information.
Home to the world famous TT Races and boasting a rich motorcycling history, the Isle of Man is a go-to destination for motorbike enthusiasts. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company welcomes motorbike bookings as standard on all its routes, with up to two passengers (including driver) allowed per vehicle. Once you arrive you’ll soon be riding off and enjoying the same roads as your racing heroes. To find out more about motorcycling on the Isle of Man, visit www.steam-packet.com/Douglas/Motorcycling. For great motorbike offers, visit www.steam-packet.com/offers/motorbikeoffers
Ferries from the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group are for pedestrian use only; however, motorbikes can be carried as freight and so must be booked in advance over the phone for an additional charge. Visit www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk or call 01736 334249 for more information.
To find out more about the more than 80 routes that Discover Ferries’ 12 members operate, visit www.discoverferries.com
Please note that MBNA Thames Clippers does not accept motorbikes on its fleet as it offers a foot passenger only service along the Thames.
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Discover Ferries is an industry body representing 12 ferry operators in the British Isles and Ireland operating more than 80 routes. Its role is to promote ferry travel and holidays and to campaign on behalf of its members and in the interests of ferry travellers. The carriage of freight vehicles is also a very important part of the Discover Ferries’ members’ business.
Discover Ferries members are: Brittany Ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne, Condor Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, MBNA Thames Clippers, P&O Ferries, Red Funnel, Stena Line and Wightlink. Discover Ferries members serve London, Channel Islands, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Scottish Islands, Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium and Holland.
Discover Ferries confirmed that 2016 saw 39 million passenger journeys by ferry, 8.6m car journeys as well as 162,000 coaches.
Discover Ferries press office, Four Travel
Contact: Tess Murray/ Zoe Poulton /Debbie Hindle
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: 0203 697 4200