Ferries are Back in Fashion

Автор: admin  |  Категория: Statistics

Ferries are Back in Fashion

The journey from home to your holiday destination can make or break your trip but what used to be all part of the experience is fast becoming something most of us dread.

Airport delays, increased security and luggage restrictions have had passengers tearing their hair out, trains can be shabby and run late all too often, petrol is pricey and roads are unreliable, while walking ratchets up the cost of shoe leather…

However, one area where quality of travel has been little affected is the humble ferry. In recent years, the ferry industry has seen a surge of improvements and a massive upturn in popularity while other methods of transport have leapt, stumbled and fallen flat owing to environmental issues, high prices and security concerns.

Since the abolition of duty free shopping on ferries in 1999, the industry was hit by a slump as their lucrative on-board sales of alcohol and tobacco were scrapped practically overnight by the EU. This also coincided with the arrival of the brand spanking Eurostar.

Capable of whipping tourists to the continent in a fraction of the time, the new super train captured people’s imaginations and led to a lack of interest in the over-sea option.

The turn of the millennium also saw the sweeping successes of the low-cost airlines. It was their heyday – and people were astonished at the flight bargains that could be had at the time.

These days, as people become more aware of their carbon footprint and the credit crunch closes in on our wallets, the ferry is seeing a serious resurgence in popularity.

Red Falcon take passengers to the Isle of Wight

In fact, it’s less of resurgence and more of an out and out boom, with new ferry routes springing up faster than you can say ‘online check in’.

Aside from the cheap fares, one major reason for the upsurge in bookings is the fact that the often lacklustre boats have now been replaced with convenient, comfortable and modern vessels.

Most ferry routes now offer restaurants, bars and traditional pubs as well as internet cafes and spacious lounges and even discos. Some ships also offer food courts and seafaring versions of the high-end Langan’s brasserie.

Norfolkine ferries have top drawer food options

Other ferries contain wine tasting and tapas bars, cinemas, fully kitted-out casinos, and on the longer routes, saunas, gyms, and even theatres.

Compare the above lists to the other leisure options available; quickly scoffing down a sandwich on the Eurostar’s buffet car, or ?2.55 for a cup-a-soup on a Ryanair flight. The ferry wins hands down.

And it seems the best is yet to come with ferry companies set to invest more than ?1.25 billion on improvements to their fleets.

P&O alone have dedicated ?500m to their ships as part of a five-year plan which should lead to quicker, more efficient services.

In addition, Stena Line, who are the major operators in the Irish Sea, are taking more than three million people across to Ireland each year.

Eighty per cent of their passengers said they chose the ferry because of the extra freedom of having their own car, 18 per cent said they liked the extra luggage capacity, and seven per cent said that it worked out cheaper than flying.

Stena Line UK Communications Manager Nigel Tilson said: “Many people have come to prioritise comfort and flexibility over the long waiting times that are associated with air travel.

“It’s a convenient, relaxing and hassle-free way to travel that offers tremendous value”

Cross channel ferries to france are a relaxing and social way to kick off your holiday

Talking about the popularity of ferry travel, William Gibbons, the head of the Passenger Shipping Association, said: “There is every expectation that the trend will continue next year. A key mission for the PSA is to get ferries back on the map as a first call for travel to the near continent and Ireland”.

And it seems that the combination of high airport security, claustrophobic trains and plenty of investment could mean that this goal will soon become a reality.

So, why is it better to go by ferry?

It’s green

The carbon footprint of ferry passengers is lower than that of airline passengers – 0.12 per kilogram/per passenger compared to 0.29 for airlines (a single ferry trip forms about 1/100th of your annual carbon emissions).

New rubbish-reducing technologies on board ferry ships are tackling waste management issues. Food grinders, recycling separators, and modified engine room equipment that help reduce emissions are all contributing to making ferries cleaner.

Brittany Ferries’ Pont Aven ship is top-of-the-line

It’s convenient

You’ll arrive at your destination with your car, which means there’s no risk of lost luggage and you’ll have plenty of extra space for your continental shopping trip. Also, if you are carrying large or odd shaped baggage you don’t have to worry about the extra charges that apply on flights, which is great news for skiers and snowboarders.

There’s also plenty of readily available late availability on ferries making last-minute short breaks a more feasible option.

It’s cheap

A late availability search produced prices of ?100 for a return ticket to Calais for one car. SeaFrance and P&O have special offers on their home page from as little as ?29 each way. Single tickets for the Eurotunnel start from ?49.

It’s going to get cheaper

Ro-pax ferries are already cheap but the increased use of these no-frills services, which combine freight voyages with passengers, will lead to a great deal more ferry bargains.

It’s hassle free

You won’t be pestered by luggage charges, check-in fees, re-circulated air, or wailing new-borns, to name just a few of flying’s bad points. It might not be as fast, but it’s certainly more pleasurable.

A taster of ferry travel…

1. A hop to France

It’s almost too easy… rent a cottage in northern France and take the car – so it’s no surprise that ferry companies have already thought of this one. Have a look at Sail and Drive’s website where they have ideas that include Caen and Cherbourg in their ‘Family summer getaways by sea’ section. See sailanddrive.com

2. The adventurous option

Take the ferry from Newcastle to Stavanger in Norway where adrenaline packed activities are plentiful. From dog-sledding, to skiing, hiking, mountain biking or just sitting in one of the city’s caf?s, all tastes are catered for.

For the extreme contingent, the area’s high cliffs are popular among base jumpers. Visit dfd seaways – prices start at ?319 for two passengers plus car.

3. Pack skis and drive

It’s cheap and easy to get to France on the ferry. Once you are there take the long drive south to the Alps (one of the most beautiful drives in Europe) with your skis firmly strapped on the roof and you’ll avoid all of those extra luggage charges. Visit natives.co.uk for routes and tips for the drive – it’s then up to you where you stay and ski!

Head to Dublin on the HSS Voyager from Holyhead

4. Ferries in the UK

The two main options are from Holyhead to Dublin and from Pembroke to Rosslare. So it’s your choice between getting lost in Dublin, or heading to Rosslare in the south where you’ll be just a short drive from Kilkenny or Limerick. Visit discover ireland for help with planning your trip.

5. Luxury on board

Travel with Brittany Ferries to Santander and you will be on board their ?100m luxury flagship boat. Crossings now take less than 24 hours but there will still be time to use the on-board pool and cinemas, and get some shut-eye in one of their top-end commodore cabins. Log onto brittany ferries for bookings.

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