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To the UK by Ferry

There are a number of ferry services from Continental Europe and the Republic of Ireland to ports along the coast of England and Wales. The ferry terminals in England are at ports in Dover, Harwich, Hull, Newcastle, Newhaven, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool and Weymouth. Ports in Wales are at Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke. Most ferry services carry foot passenger as well as road vehicles and their passengers.

You can purchase ferry tickets online from several ferry booking websites including those directly managed by the ferry operators. Booking by telephone and through travel agents are also possible with some ferry operators but they often charge a booking fee. Booking online is often a cheaper option since there’s no booking fee. Furthermore, booking online offers passengers plenty of options including special fares, discounts for advanced and groupbookings.

SeaFrance Ferry in Dover by Pkuczynski

Ferry Routes

There are three broad ferry routes to the UK namely the South Coast, East Coast and West Coast Routes. The most popular ferry route is the service between Dover (southern coast of England) and Calais (northern coast of France) due to its short sailing time of about 1 hour 30 minutes. Two ferry companies currently serve this route including P&O Ferries with around 25 sailings a day and DFDS Seaways with 15 sailings a day.

Ferry at Calais by Romainberth

South Coast Routes

The South Coast Routes connects ports on the southern coast of England with ports in northern France and northern Spain.

  • Saint Malo (France) to Portsmouth: Brittany Ferries (9-11 hrs)
  • Saint Malo (France) to Weymouth: Condor Ferries (5 hrs 15 mins)
  • Saint Malo (France) to Poole: Condor Ferries (4 hrs 35 mins)
  • Cherbourg (France) to Portsmouth: Brittany Ferries (2 hrs 45 mins)
  • Cherbourg (France) to Poole: Brittany Ferries (5 hrs)
  • Le Havre ( France) to Portsmouth: Brittany Ferries (6 hrs)
  • Caen (France) to Portsmouth: Brittany Ferries (6 hrs)
  • Dunkirk  (France) to Dover: DFDS Seaways (1 hr 45 mins)
  • Calais (France) to Dover: P&O Ferries (1 hr 30 mins)
  • Dieppe (France) to Newhaven: DFDS Seaways (4 hrs)
  • Roscoff (France) to Plymouth: Brittany Ferries (6 hrs)
  • Bilbao (Spain) to Portsmouth: Brittany Ferries (25 hrs
  • Santander (Spain) to Plymouth: Brittany Ferries (24 hrs)
Brittany Ferries at Portsmouth by Peter Trimming

East Coast Routes

The East Coast Routes connects ports on the east coast of England with ports in the Netherlands and Belgium.

  • Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Newcastle: DFDS Seaways (16 hrs)
  • Rotterdam (Netherlands) to Hull: P&O Ferries (10 hrs)
  • Hoek van Holland (Netherlands) to Harwich: Stena Line (7 hrs)
  • Zeebrugge (Belgium) to Hull: P&O Ferries (8 hrs)

West Coast Routes

The West Coast Routes connects ports on the west coast of England and Wales with the Republic of Ireland.

  • Dublin (Ireland) to Holyhead: Stena Line and Irish Ferries (2 hrs)
  • Dublin (Ireland) to Liverpool: P&O Ferries (6 hrs)
  • Rosslare (Ireland) to Fishguard: Stena Line (2 hrs)
  • Rosslare (Ireland) to Pembroke: Irish Ferries (4 hrs)

Vehicle Carrying Ferries

Many ferry services also carry road vehicles and their passengers besides foot passengers. Ferry operators offering vehicle and passengers services between Continental Europe and the UK include Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries, DFDS Seaways and Stena Line. There are also such ferry services between the Republic of Ireland and Wales operated by P&O Ferries, Stena Line and Irish Ferries. Note that passengers must leave the car deck and not permitted to return to the deck until the end of the journey. Therefore, bring your essentials with you once you leave the car deck.

Facilities on Board the Ferries

On most routes, there are onboard restaurants offering a selection of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner depending on the time of travel. Many will also have a cafe serving hot drinks and a sumptuous selection of snacks and pastries. There is plenty of shopping on board the ferries usually offering confectionery, perfumes, cosmetics, tobacco products, alcohol, toiletries, gift items, souvenirs and toys. There is often a play area for kids to keep them occupied during the journey. On longer routes, there is a choice of private accommodations and leisure activities such as live entertainment and cinema.

On board Irish Ferries by Robert Linsdell

Combined Train-Ferry Tickets

Combined train and ferry tickets are available departing from railway stations in the Republic of Ireland to over 2,400 railway stations on the UK mainland. You can purchase the combined tickets from Irish Ferries or Stena Line through their respective websites. There are two options for the combined service:

  • Take the train to Dublin (Republic of Ireland), transfer to the ferry operated by Stena Line or Irish Ferries to Holyhead (Wales) and then board the train to your UK destination.
  • Take the train to Rosslare (Republic of Ireland), transfer to the ferry operated by Irish Ferries to Pembroke (Wales) and then board the train to your UK destination.

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