Tourist Information UK

Ships & Ferries

Being an island means that the UK has numerous ports dotted around its coast. Passenger ferries operate between the UK and Ireland and to several countries in Europe.

Although ferries may be slower than planes, airport travel has become complicated due to security checks and long queues. Ferry companies don't have these complications and are incredibly efficient at getting vehicles on and off their boats. You do have to take your passport though.

Ferries are a more environmentally friendly way to travel and give holiday makers greater freedom as you can take your own vehicle wherever and whenever you want. Depending on the size of your car, you also have fewer restrictions on how much luggage you can take. Add to this the fact that under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) you can also take your beloved cat, dog or ferret on holiday with you. This will cost you a small fee but costs considerably less than kennel fees.

On board facilities vary according to the length of your journey. Longer journeys are now sold as mini cruises with entertainment, comfortable accommodation and plenty of restaurants and shops.

You can travel as a foot passenger or with a vehicle. Prices will depend on what size vehicle you are taking, if you are towing a caravan or trailer and the time of year that you travel. Discounts are available if you book well in advance. Many companies offer travel insurance as an extra but make sure that you are not already covered on your existing insurance as you don't want to pay twice.

The seven ports on England's south coast take passengers to France, Spain, Belgium, Guernsey and Jersey. Harwich on the east coast has a route to Holland and ports on the Welsh and Scottish coasts travel to Ireland.

The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the World and this means there is a lot of choice when it comes to choosing a ferry company. To find out which will be the best route for you and which ferry companies operate on that route, try looking at the following websites:

Alternatively, you can book directly with the following ferry companies: