Why You Should Take a Ferry Next Time You Travel

Have you ever considered taking a ferry as a travel option but didn’t? Was it too slow? Not luxurious enough? Ferries get a bad rap, maybe because American minds wander to ideas of the Staten Island Ferry or intrepid travelers think about those questionable,chaotic rides across rocky waters in Southeast Asia. Whatever preconceived notions you have, leave them at the door, because we’re here to tell you that taking the ferry is one of the best ways to travel.
Prepared By:

Shannon Lowery

Writer & Traveler

Forget everything you thought you knew about what it’s like to take a ferry. From sustainability to comfort, these are the reasons why ferry travel should be your first choice in transportation.

Before you keep reading, note that this article was largely inspired by our experiences aboard the Brittany Ferries Salamanca vessel. Learn more about our two-night voyage from Ireland to Spain and why it will be our first of many journeys via ferry.

1. Ferry Travel is Sustainable

While environmental impacts often dominate conversations on sustainability, let’s talk first about the cultural, economic, and social aspects of sustainable ferry travel. Ferry travel supports smaller communities by often calling on mid-size ports instead of major cities. By docking in coastal areas, regions, and towns slightly off the beaten path, ferries allow visitors to experience places they may have otherwise missed. Onboard, guests will find art galleries and cultural exhibits reflective of their ports of call. 

How is Ferry Travel Green Travel?

Flying, while convenient and *sometimes* affordable, is simply not good for the environment. It often stresses our bodies, wallets, and minds, but also the planet. Transportation accounts for roughly half of all carbon emissions caused by the travel industry. Of those carbon-causing travel options, flying emits the highest carbon emissions while ferries emit the lowest. In fact, you can now compare transport carbon emissions for yourself with the new Direct Ferries carbon calculator. For some routes, taking a combination of ferries and trains instead of a short-haul flight may reduce carbon emissions by nearly 90%! 

You might be surprised to learn that many ferry companies rely on modern technology and regular vessel updates to decrease environmental impact. For example, the Salamanca and other ships like it run on liquified natural gas, which burns cleaner than diesel with 25% fewer carbon emissions. Salamanca also features a specially designed hull that reduces drag and leads to an efficient passage of a high volume of guests and vehicles. The ship also features anti-fouling paint and ultrasonic transducers which reduce marine growth that can cause more drag and thus burn more fuel. Onboard, many ferries are reducing or eliminating the use of single-use plastics and offering more sustainable amenities like eco-friendly toiletries in the cabins.

Take a ferry when you travel

2. Slow Travel Is the Next Big Thing

Slow travel is the perfect bookend for any vacation. If you struggle to get into “out of office” brain or just want an extra day at the end of a big expedition to reflect on your trip, then slow travel is definitely for you.

What Is Slow Travel?

Slow travel focuses on choosing the slower, more scenic travel route, whether that be by boat, train, automobile or otherwise. Ferry travel is a prime example of slow travel, focusing on the journey to the destination and the experience along the way. Forget stressful security lines and tantric gate sprints to make your connection. Kick back, relax, and take it easy all the way to your destination.

See The Sights During Slow Travel

Another benefit of slow travel is the ability to spot wildlife and points of interest during your down-tempo voyage. On many ferry routes, it’s not unusual to see seals, whales, basking sharks and other marine life depending on where and when you’re sailing. You may also spot a few historic landmarks along your route. All of these sightings sure beat the usual view of airport tarmac.

Train Travel in Laos is affordable and scenic

3. Onboard Is Better Than In-Flight

Flying is an exclusive experience, and your options are drastically limited based on your budget. In contrast, the variety of options onboard ferries usually suits many different comfort requirements and budgets, from cabins to lounge access to other add-ons.

Ferry Travel Is Comfortable

In terms of comfort, the base level experience on a ferry is incredible compared to a plane. Even with the most basic ferry seat, you can still freely move about the boat, stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and use a normal-size bathroom. You simply cannot get some of those creature comforts on flights, no matter how much money you’re willing to spend.

Ferry Food is Better Than Airline Food

This point comes with a caveat. If you’re used to first-class luxury airline dining, then you may not be impressed with the offerings on a ferry. However, for the average traveler, in-flight dining experiences leave much to be desired. Again, it’s all about the options. Not only do most overnight ferries have food, many now have a wide variety of dining options. So you can chose to bring your own food aboard or purchase everything from grab-and-go sandwiches to a three-course hot meal during your voyage. With some tickets, your meals are even included. In general, the quality of the food is much higher than airline food and the prices are much fairer.

Ferries Allow More Luggage

When it comes to luggage, don’t worry about overpacking. There are far less baggage restrictions when you take a ferry. Most ferries are also pet-friendly and even offer pet-friendly cabins so you and your four-legged friends can share some privacy and a comfy bed to sleep in. Because you can bring a vehicle on a ferry, you can save money on that rental and pack the car with more essentials you might need for your trip. You can also easily bring bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers or other apparatus onboard, with a bit less worrying about those careless airline luggage handlers.

Why You Should Take a Ferry

4. Ferries Are Family-Friendly

The idea of flying with a newborn baby or your elderly mother is enough to send even the most patient traveler into a panic. Luckily with a ferry, parents can nurse or change baby in a clean, more private environment. Most deck spacious enough for wheelchairs and there are also elevators onboard. The high-speed internet options ensure that the workaholic in your family can stay connected, too. Our boat even included both outdoor and indoor children’s play areas in addition to a small exercise space. Thanks to the stress-less experience, ferries are a great travel option no matter who you are or what your age.

If you’re looking for an easy, comfortable, affordable way to get from point A to B, look no further than ferry travel. Embrace the “joy of the journey” when you take a ferry. 

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