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

Back to top