Get sailing in National Ferry Fortnight

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The annual event encourages travellers to experience the advantages of starting a short break or holiday by boat

The Channel Tunnel is now rated an unqualified success, no-frills airlines are finally attempting to become passenger-friendly but British ferries, those workhorses plying across the English Channel, the North Sea, the Irish Sea and beyond, are attracting more and more travellers.

The reasons are easy to understand: ferries offer flexible and comfortable travel, very seldom suffer delays and make the journey an enjoyable part of any holiday. Also, the majority are no longer workhorses but fine beasts with cosy seating, pleasant bars, first class lounges and, on some vessels, spas and fine dining restaurants. And they are exceptionally stable.

Reference: The Stockholm Network (blog)

Last year, 38 million passengers travelled on Britain’s ferries, an increase of almost one million, and more cars and coaches were carried. To highlight the ease, value and variety of routes, today sees the launch of National Ferry Fortnight, the sixth consecutive year of the campaign.

Supported by the 12 operator members of Discover Ferries, this year’s event urges everyone to “join our ferry family” and encourages travellers to experience the advantages of starting a short break or holiday by boat. One notable slogan — in a dig at the airlines — is that “baggage goes free with ferries”, which will appear on thousands of luggage labels.

The aim is to remind families that they can take multiple suitcases, buggies, golf clubs, guitars, even giant teddy bears with them at no extra cost and with no hassle.

Bill Gibbons, director of Discover Ferries, says: “We have chosen these themes to help even more people realise how family-friendly ferry travel is. Having sailed once, we are sure they will see the many benefits which include no hidden costs, is stress-free and great facilities for families.”

Central to the campaign will be a series of promotional offers on services, from Stromness in Orkney to Amsterdam and Hook of Holland. One third of the passengers who travelled on Britain’s ferries last year took the short sea crossing from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk, and offers are available on bookings made in the next fortnight on all three operators to Calais — DFDS Seaways, P&O Ferries and Myferrylink — and on DFDS services to Dunkirk.

Within the UK, vouchers are available on early bookings for Caledonian MacBrayne crossings to the Western Isles, while Northlink has discounts to Orkney and Shetland. Book within the next fortnight and Condor Ferries has half-price travel for children on all routes to the Channel Isles from southern England.

A survey in January of 11,500 UK and Continental ferry passengers by IRN Research gave ratings of more than 90 per cent for the ease of checking-in and out, pricing, the convenience of taking your car and freedom to move around the ships.

Ferry travel is a means to an end, whether for shopping, short break or a holiday. In these six pages, we describe attractions and holiday venues available by sailing on some of the 75 routes operated by Britain’s ferries.

This post was contributed by the Michael May Blog who is a regular poster both here on their own blog.  You can catch them on twitter, facebook or even their very popular youtube channel.