All Aboard the Ferry!
In the era of global air travel, boats and trains have quickly become the romantic alternative to transportation. If you’re traveling in Europe overland, opt for the comfortable and spacious train to get you from A to B. But if you’re traveling over the water—opt out of the time-consuming and cramped plane—and opt into the slow and languid pace of a ferry.
Here are 5 Ways Ferry Travel in Europe is Just Awesome:
1. Wherever you go, no ferry is alike.
They’re different from country to country, from service line to service line. Some ferries are stocked with facilities like karaoke and bars; others are barebone! Some have cabins and others just seats! Most however offer food and refreshments for your trip, and a closed-off area protected from the elements.
What does that mean for you? You’ll never get bored! And there’s something for all styles of travel.
Sometimes ferries sail overnight, saving on the cost of a hotel room. They can carry cars, bikes as well as passengers, and usually operate year-round (depending on the climate of course!).
2. They are THE BEST way to explore those hard-to-reach places.
How do you get around the achingly beautiful Dalmatian isles without a sailboat? How do you hop from one continent to the next, Spain to Africa, in a mere half-hour? How to navigate the stunning Norwegian fjords? On a ferry of course!
3. Longer sailings can open up a whole new world.
Though most European ferry rides can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, longer rides can be a terrific way to see the continent! Hop on a Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Riga, Latvia. It’s overnight, you get your own dinner and cabin, and in the morning wake up to a new land altogether!
Another incredible ferry journey you can brag about is the voyage from Hanstholm in Denmark to Seydisfjördur in Iceland on the Smyril Line. It’s the only way for the average traveler to reach Iceland by boat. The ship stops in Torshavn in the Faroe Islands—that’s three awesome destinations in one go! That certainly beats a predictable plane ride, cramped in a tight place for 5-8 hours, right?
4. They make for incredible memories.
Some of my favorite travel days were on ferries—the sporadic ferry from Sarandë to Corfu, the short ride from Klaipeda to Nida, the wealth of ferry systems within Stockholm city. They move slowly but are perfect ways to enjoy the wind on your face. Out on the open sea, blue waves and sunshine—watching the waters unfurl out behind you—it can be exhilarating for some. Some international ferry routes are covered by a rail pass.
5. They’re casual.
None of that rushing to the airport — checking your luggage — going through security nonsense. You show up, show your ticket and it’s all aboard! Though some ferry lines require booking your cabin before your trip, with others you can just buy at the ticket window an hour before departure. You’ll want to watch for peak travel times, though, as sometimes tickets can sell out. For overnight ferries, reserving your cabin is a must! Check with your travel agent for the details!
There are dozens of ferry services, but some of the more popular are:
England, Ireland, Sweden, Norway: http://www.stenaline.nl/en-GB-nl
Finland, Sweden, Estonia: https://www.vikingline.com/en/
Baltic Sea: https://www.tallinksilja.se
Corsica, Sardinia: https://www.corsica-ferries.co.uk/
Berth or Cabin?
By the way, ever wondered what the difference between a cabin and a berth is? You will if you book an overnight ferry!
A cabin is a ship bedroom. A berth is somewhere to sleep, a bed or bunkbed. For a couple, book a 2-berth cabin. When making reservations, some cabins offer a selection of choices: outside, inside, food included, private bathroom, wash basin only, no washing facilities. Watch out for shared cabins—you might sleep in the same cabin with a fellow traveler! When in doubt, ask your travel agent!
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