Say goodbye to the holiday blues: ferries sail to the rescue of would-be travelers worried about using crowded airports and planes
- Ferries can quickly take you to Northern Ireland for a great adventure
- If you fancy the Caribbean, travel by ferry to the Hebrides
- Take a ferry to the Isles of Scilly, where you can swim with the seals in clear waters
Each week our holiday hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the work so you don’t have to. This week: some fantastic ferry routes for the summer.
Ferries sail to the rescue of would-be vacationers worried about using crowded airports and airplanes.
Passengers have been reduced on many routes, so there’s more room to spread out on the wide open upper decks – and plenty of fresh air to protect you and eliminate those cobwebs.
A Stena Line ferry enters the River Mersey on its way back from Belfast
And the plastic screens, hand sanitizing stations, and one-way systems that we now expect on land are all present at sea.
Take a car and you can avoid the terminal buildings altogether and drive straight on and off the ferry in a socially distant style. For a longer trip, families can stay in their bubble by booking cabins with private bathrooms.
Flexible tickets are available on most routes, so if needed you can change the dates or cancel. Best of all, you don’t even have to leave the UK to have an exceptional holiday experience with a ferry.
Have you missed a great American road trip since the American borders were closed last spring? Ferries can get you quickly to Northern Ireland for a great alternative – the Causeway Coastal Route.
A six-day family-friendly route begins in Belfast (home to the Titanic Museum) and includes the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Rathlin Island, medieval Dunluce Castle and many shootings of Game Of Thrones. places before ending 130 miles away in Londonderry.
Stena Line sails to Belfast from Liverpool in around eight hours, or from Cairnryan in Scotland in just over two. Round-trip ferry tickets for two adults in a car, plus a suggested route, directions and six nights in hotels along the coastal road, cost from £ 400 per person (stenaline.co.uk).
MacBrayne Caledonian ferries can take you to Berneray, Canna, Colonsay beaches from Oban (pictured)
If you fancy the vibrant colors of the Caribbean sea and sands, a ferry can take you to the Hebrides, where white sand beaches and rich blue waters easily match those of Bermuda, Bahamas or Barbados. And the strong winds, which are part of the Gulf Stream, make the Scottish Islands a great place for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
From Oban, Caledonian MacBrayne ferries can take you to the white sands of Berneray, Canna, Colonsay and more in under three hours. Foot passenger fares for two adults and two children start at around £ 45 roundtrip (calmac.co.uk).
If you missed the snorkeling and sea creatures, take a ferry to the Isles of Scilly, where you can swim with the seals in clear waters. From Penzance, expect breathtaking views of the Cornish coast on the two-hour and 45-minute journey to St Mary’s. Round-trip fares start at £ 30 for adults and £ 15 for children, while dogs are free (islesofscilly-travel.co.uk).
Easy to do: a ferry from Penzance to Cornwall crosses Mont Saint-Michel to the Isles of Scilly
Watching the world-class stars normally means heading to distant places like the Canaries, South Africa or New Zealand. Still, a ferry can take you to the Isle of Man, one of the UK’s best places to see the Milky Way and the planets. The island, which is set to reopen to tourists by July, has more than two dozen “ dark sky discovery sites ” and astronomer-led tours.
Travel to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company from Liverpool or Heysham in Lancashire in around three hours. Foot passenger fares are £ 18.75 each way, or return fares for two people in a car start at around £ 108 (steam-packet.com).
Find inspiration on dozens of other ferry routes and vacation ideas at Discoverferries.com.