Ferry travel could offer great socially-distant summer getaways

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Research from industry body Discover Ferries, shows that Brits are keen to travel in 2020 with almost three quarters (73%) of us wanting to travel in the UK and Europe. As government rules around non-essential travel relax, the ferry industry has issued guidance on journeys and destinations that comply with social distancing to inspire 2020 travel plans and help holidaymakers to book with confidence.

With wide passenger areas, access to fresh air and new Covid-safe measures in place, ferries offer a great safe and comfortable way to travel. Furthermore, the ability to travel with your own car or motorhome on many routes means travellers can enjoy camping and self-catering holidays in quieter spots whilst minimising interaction with other people both on the journey and upon arrival. To highlight experiences away from the usual tourist hotspots, Discover Ferries has put together a list of fantastic places for nature-lovers to visit this summer, when travel restrictions have been lifted.

Socially distanced experiences to inspire your next trip

Puffin spotting
These colourful-billed seabirds are found along UK coastlines and islands including the Scilly Isles. To see them in flight, set sail on The Scillonian Ferry, which is operated by Isles of Scilly Travel. Puffins also nest on Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland. Sail to this RSPB breeding site in County Antrim with P&O Ferries’ Cairnryan-Larne route. Alternatively, the Port of Belfast is a two-hour drive away, Stena Line offers crossings from Liverpool and Cairnryan and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has a seasonal service from Douglas.

French footpaths
Boasting open countryside, there is plenty of room to roam in France meaning that some days you won’t encounter a soul. Diverse landscapes including gorges, vineyards and mountains make for a walking paradise with endless views and plenty of picnicking spots to savour local cheese, wine and a crusty baguette.

Travel to France with from Dover to Calais, with P&O Ferries, or with DFDS via Dover to Calais or Dunkirk or via Newhaven to Dieppe. Brittany Ferries offers routes from Plymouth to Roscoff and from Portsmouth to Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre and Saint Malo.

Wildlife deck watches
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are regular deck sightings, with ORCA Wildlife Officers stationed on some ships for the annual OceanWatch marine mammal survey. Last year more than 2,000 animals were sighted during the nine-day survey period. Cetaceans can be spotted off the UK and European coasts, but you have a good chance of spotting marine life during longer ferry crossings, while taking in the fresh sea air. DFDS encourages wildlife watching on its Newcastle-Amsterdam service and whales and dolphins are frequently spotted along Brittany Ferries’ Portsmouth-Santander route.

Daytrippers, visitors and commuters in London can also spot wildlife in the Thames, which is home to two species of seal and more than 100 types of fish. Together with the opportunity to see the city’s views from the waterline, Thames Clippers produces an activity sheet in conjunction with ZSL to help young passengers learn about the river’s ecology.

Stargazing
In more remote areas of the British Isles, low levels of light pollution provide astronomers with clear night skies; perfect for perusing the constellations or spending a tranquil evening bathed in starlight. The Isle of Wight, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands boast some of the darkest skies in British waters and offer a variety of campsites for adventurers looking to sleep beneath the stars. Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel offer services to the Isle of Wight; Isle of Man Steam Packet Company runs routes from Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin to Douglas; and Condor Ferries operates links to Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

Cycling along Holland’s waterways
Self-guided cycling holidays are the perfect solution for holidaymakers looking for solitude and adventure. First-timers and young families alike can enjoy exploring Holland by bike, which has flat terrain, flower fields and an extensive network of cycle paths. And, with ferry routes from a variety of British ports offering bicycle crossings and bike rack add-ons to vehicle crossings, you won’t need to worry about hiring equipment when you arrive.

DFDS runs ferries from Newcastle to Amsterdam, P&O Ferries operates services from Hull to Rotterdam and Stena Line offers crossings from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.

Foraging in the Ring of Kerry
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is renowned for its green open spaces, perfect for holidaymakers looking to take in the west coast’s breathtaking scenery from the comfort of their own car. Boasting fine beaches, the Wicklow Mountains and greenway trails; foodies can experience the best of Kerry’s soil and sea with foraging tours and fishing trips. Irish Ferries offers daily sailings from Holyhead to Dublin and Pembroke to Rosslare, P&O Ferries operates crossings between Liverpool and Dublin and Stena Line runs services from Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare.

Emma Batchelor, director of Discover Ferries, says: “From day trips and staycations to European breaks, not only does ferry travel give passengers that feeling of escape but it offers a broad range of destinations where social distancing comes naturally. With an abundance of wildlife and beautiful sites in and around our coastlines and waterways, there has never been a better time to head off the beaten track and explore the flourishing nature on our doorstep.
“With wide public areas, open deck space and, on some routes, private cabins, ferry travel naturally lends itself well to social distancing. Additional Covid-compliant measures have been put in place to help keep passengers and crew safe and we hope this guide for socially-distant breaks will inspire the holidaymakers keen to travel this summer.”

Discover Ferries’ members operate over 80 ferry routes across the UK, Ireland and British Isles. For information about current ferry operations and the hygiene and social distancing measures in place for individual routes, visit: www.discoverferries.com/ferrysafe

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