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Around the UK by Ferry

There are ferry services sailing between ports in Northern Ireland and the western coast of England and Scotland. There are also ferry services sailing to many of the islands off the coast of the UK mainland. Ferries not only carry foot passengers but many also carry road vehicles including cars, vans, motorhomes, motorcycles and bicycles. 

Ferryboats travel at a much slower pace compared to travelling by plane and many trips last for hours. However, travelling on board a ferry is a relaxing and an enjoyable experience like a mini cruise! You can watch the land recede and sea skimming against the bow as the ferry sails to its destination. Journeys on ferries that last more than two hours usually have shops, cafes, entertainment and a choice of accommodations on longer journeys.

Upper deck of the MV Scillonian III to the Isle of Scilly by Nausiphile

Between Northern Ireland and UK Mainland

Stena Lines and P&O Ferries operate ferry services sailing across the Irish Sea between ports in Northern Ireland and ports in England and Scotland. The ferries not only carry foot passengers but also road vehicles and their passengers.

  • Stena Line sails up to six times a day from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan in Scotland (2 hrs 15 mins) and twice a day to Liverpool in England (8 hrs).
  • P&O Ferries sails up to seven times a day from Larne in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan (2 hrs) and Troon (2 hrs 15 mins) in Scotland. 

Stena Line and P&O Ferries offer a wide range of passenger facilities on their ferries including restaurant, cafe, premium lounge, children’s play area and plenty of shopping.

Stena Line ferry David Merrett

Ferries to the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is located across the Solent (a body of water) off the southern coast of England and easily accessible by several sea routes. Three ferry companies operate services from the southern coast to the Isle of Wight. 

  • Wightlink operates from Portsmouth a passenger ferry to Ryde (15 mins) and a car ferry to Fishbourne (45 mins) on the Isle of Wight. Wightlink also operates a car and passenger ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth (35 mins) on the island.
  • Red Funnel operates from Southampton a passenger ferry to West Cowes (30 mins) and a car and passenger ferry to East Cowes (55 mins) on the Isle of Wight.
  • Hovertravel operates from Portsmouth a hovercraft service carrying passengers to Ryde (10 mins) on the island.
Car ferry to the Isle of Wight by Mypix

Ferry to the Isles of Scilly

The passenger ferry MV Scillonian III sails between Penzance on the southwestern coast of England and the island of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The service runs from March to November operating six days a week and seven during the high season. The ferry trip takes 2 hours 40-45 minutes sailing from Penzance at 9:15 a.m. and arriving at St Mary’s by 12:00 p.m. It then leaves St Mary’s for Penzance at 4:30 p.m. and arrives at 7:10 p.m. Facilities on board the ferry include reclining seats, lounge area, cafe, baby changing facility and an open deck with seating.

Scillonian ferry to the Isle of Scilly by Nausiphile

Ferries to the Islands off Scotland

The Hebrides

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac Ferries) operates ferry services from the western coast of the Scottish mainland to the archipelagos of the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. The ferry company is the main operator connecting 22 islands and 4 peninsulas through 27 sea routes. The ferries carry both road vehicles and passengers on 17 of the routes while on other routes carry only passengers. Routes include Ullapool to Stornoway (2 hrs 45 mins), Oban to Colonsay (2 hrs 30 mins), Oban to the Isle of Mull  (46 minutes) and Ardrossan to the Isle of Arran (55 minutes). Facilities on board some of the ferries include restaurant, cafe, retail outlet, TV lounge and baby changing facility.

Orkney Islands & Shetland Islands

North off the Scottish mainland is the archipelagos of the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands, linked to the mainland by NorthLink Ferries. The ferries sail through several sea routes carrying both road vehicles and passengers.

  • There are daily services from Aberdeen to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands (6 hrs), which then continues its journey to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands (7 hrs 45 mins).
  • There are also direct daily services departing from Aberdeen to Lerwick (12 hrs 30 mins).
  • There are daily services from Scrabster to Stromness in the Orkney Islands (1 hr 30 mins).Orkney Ferries operates inter-island ferries within the Orkney archipelago with Kirkwall as the hub while Shetland Ferry Services operates inter-island ferries within the Shetland archipelago with Lerwick as the hub.

Northlink ferry to the Orkney Islands by Polarmog

Ferries to the Isle of Man

The Steam Packet Company operates a fast craft and a conventional ferry sailing between Douglas on the Isle of Man and ports in England and Northern Ireland. There is a conventional ferry service sailing between Douglas and Heysham (3 hrs 45 mins) in England and a fast craft service between Belfast (2 hrs 45 mins) in Northern Ireland. There are also ferry services between Douglas and Liverpool using the fast craft (2 hrs 45 mins) and conventional ferry (4 hrs).

Steam Packet ferry by Roger Davies

Ferries to the Channel Islands

Condor Ferries sails regularly from Portsmouth as well as Poole on the southern coast of England to St Peter Port on the island of Guernsey (7 hrs) and St Helier on the island of Jersey (9 hrs) in the English Channel. There are also ferry services sailing up to 11 times per week between Jersey and Guernsey (1 hr) by Condor Ferries. Facilities on board Condor Ferries include restaurant, cafe, duty-free shopping, children’s play area and WiFi access.

Condor Ferries by Simon Palmer

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