Cut the costs of your family getaway by rolling up and off on a ferry

With no baggage costs or rental car, sailing can offer fantastic value.


The open road and a spacious ship can float your boat more than a budget airline too. And if you book your accommodation and sailing together, you can save even more.

With National Ferry Fortnight in full swing, JACOB LEWIS rounds up the best affordable family ferry breaks, from theme parks in Holland to beaches in France.

ISLE OF MAN

THE Isle of Man is bursting with family fun.

Explore the coast by kayak, swing from the trees at Ape Mann and make furry friends at Curraghs ­Wildlife Park.

For a sure way to wear out the kids, hike up the island’s only mountain, Snaefell.

Then head to Peel, nicknamed Sunset City, to enjoy some delicious seafood while watching night fall.

Ferry crossings for a car plus two adults and up to three kids with the Steam Packet Company are from £126 each waybetween July 3 and August 30.

Alternatively, three nights’ B&B at the Penta Hotel is from £107pp, including return ferry travel as foot passengers. See steam-packet.com/offers.

FRANCE

START your summer hols early with a dip in the pools on board Brittany Ferries’ Pont-Aven and Cap Finistere.

From magic shows and pantos to stand-up comedians, there is loads to keep the kids occupied. Packages cover everything from family cottages to beachside apartments.


Why not spend this half-term in a chalet at St Gilles-Croix de Vie? Midway between the larger resorts of St-Jean-de-Monts and Les Sables d’Olonne, St Gilles is a friendly, relaxed little town with a great beach and a fishing harbour.

Four nights’ self-catering at St Gilles-Croix de Vie costs from £79pp based on a family of four sharing over half-term, including ferry crossings. See brittany-ferries.co.uk/holidays.

HOLLAND

FAMILIES can save 20% on return ferry crossings by booking a holiday to Center Parcs in Holland with Stena Line.

On one of the most peaceful parts of the Dutch coast, Center Parcs Zandvoort near the North Sea dunes is handily located for outings to nearby Amsterdam.

Sailings to Holland are from just £59 for a car plus driver. One week’s self-catering at Center Parks Zandvoort is from £180pp, including ferry travel on Stena Line’s Harwich to Hook of Holland route. See stenaline.co.uk/ferry-to-holland/national-ferry-fortnight.

DFDS offers a magical getaway to Efteling in Kaatsheuvel. The quirky theme park has rides based on ancient myths, legends and fairy tales. Five nights’ room-only at Efteling costs from £150pp based on four sharing, including ferry crossings to Dover or Calais in one car. See dfdsseaways.co.uk/holidays.

LONDON

TRAVELLING by river on board MBNA Thames Clippers is a great way for families to get about London for the day.

Family-friendly features include easy ramp access for buggies, baby change facilities, free activity packs, and kids lunchboxes (peak season only).

A Family River Roamer day ticket is from £32.60 for two adults and up to three kids.

Or for £50 more, get a joint ticket that includes a trip on Emirates Air Line cable car. See mbnathamesclippers.com.

IRELAND

ESCAPE to the wild west coast of Ireland this summer. Irish Ferries has a great selection of cottages for rent and kids can travel for free.

Cottages at Spanish Cove, in County Clare, near the stunning Spanish Point beach are great for a seaside break.

Five nights’ self-catering at Spanish Cove is from £118pp based on four sharing, including return ferry for two adults and two kids.
See irishferries.com.

HEBRIDES

CALMAC Ferries has just launched a series of adventure day tours in conjunction with partners across the Hebrides.

With fares from less than £4 adult return, you can visit great beaches, explore ancient castles, or kayak rugged coastlines.

For a longer trip, The Five Ferries Island Hopping Adventure is perfect for exploring.

The Five Ferries Island Hopping Adventure is from £50.90 per car, £13.80 per adult and £6.95 child. See calmac.co.uk.

A SENSE OF PORPOISE

Discover Ferries is encouraging passengers to record sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises while out at sea as part of the ORCA charity’s OceanWatch, running from July 28 to August 5.

To help make the most of your time aboard, Lucy Barbey from ORCA gives her top wildlife watching tips:

  • Do some research in advance to get an idea of what you might see.
  • Pick your crossing as some routes take a different path even if heading to the same destination.
  • Bring everything you need for watching, such as binoculars and a decent camera.
  • Work as a team. The more eyes you have on the water, the more chance you have of spotting something.
  • Perseverance is key. It may sound obvious, but the more time you spend watching out for wildlife, the more animals you are going to see.

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