Ferry Travelling Blog

News and views on european ferries

May 21, 2013
by ferryadmin

Ferries cross the Mersey

Liverpool ferriesThere are many things which the city of Liverpool holds close to its heart, the Beatles, the Liver Building and of course, the River Mersey and the ferries which cross it.

The Mersey Ferry operates the route between Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula and operates either a direct route or a River Explorer cruise daily.

The history of ferries on the route stretches back to the 12th century when the monks at the Benedictine Priory would charge passengers a small fee to row them across the river. The Priory was given a royal charter in 1330, which granted the Priory and its successors to always have…

…”the right of ferry there…for men, horses and goods, with leave to charge reasonable tolls”

The rights changed to private ownership in in the 1500s, when sailing ships were used, however due to the weather conditions in Liverpool making the Mersey prone to thick fogs, the frequency of the ferry service decreased.

The rise in commercial activity in the area meant ensured increased use of the river to transport both passengers and goods, and by the mid-18th century there were 5 ferry ports on the Wirral side of the river.

By the end of the 19th century, the ferry service had to compete with the Mersey Railway Tunnel, but was still carrying over 44,000 per day. They took a brief break from service during the First World War, where they were used as troop ships on the naval raid at Zeebrugge. Due to their work in the war, they were allowed to use “Royal” in their name.

In the 20th century, the ferries were carrying 30 million passengers a year in the 1950s, but this number fell drastically by the 70s. This slump in use of the ferries continued until into the 80s and 90s. Since the 90s, the focus has moved away from commuter traffic and more towards to tourist needs, and today the ferry carries passengers across the Mersey and also the Manchester Ship Canal.

For full details of the cruises offered by the Mersey Ferries, you can visit their website, where you will also find sailing times and prices.

The Ferry was immortalised in the Gerry and the Pacemakers’ song “Ferry Cross the Mersey” in 1964, and I’m sure anyone making a crossing can’t help but think of this tune when they do. In case you haven’t heard it though, here it is…….

In their time, the Mersey Ferries have chalked up some impressive facts and figures, here are some of the best:

  • They were the first ferries in the world to install a radar system to ensure safe navigation in fog
  • 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded for bravery in the raid on Zeebrugge
  • Each of the Mersey Ferries can hold 35 tonnes of fuel and can burn a tonne in 12 hours – at that rate, you could sail a Mersey Ferry to New York without having to refuel
  • There is a ferry crossing across the Mersey recorded in the Domesday Book
  • Apart from the Gerry and the Pacemakers song, the ferries have a little musicality of their own – Royal Iris of the Mersey and Snowdrop have horns with an E-flat tone and Royal Daffodil has an F-sharp horn.

    If you’re staying travelling to or from Liverpool, there are a number of great hotels in the city centre which will give you a great base to explore not only the Mersey Ferries, but also all of the other exciting sites and attractions in the city. We stayed at the DeVere Village Liverpool, a modern city centre hotel with loads of really great details and some of the comfiest beds you’ll ever have the pleasure of sleeping on. After a day on the river (depending on the weather!) the Village Hotel will let you relax back on dry land.

  • January 25, 2013
    by ferryadmin

    In Dublin’s fair city

    One of the most popular weekend destinations is Dublin, easily accessible by ferry from Liverpool in the North West of England.

    The capital city of Ireland has many historical attractions, luxurious shops and restaurants as well as its fair share of rowdy bars! If you have a weekend to spare and fancy a break then why not head over the water and check out some of these….

    Trinity College
    The sole college which makes up the University of Dublin, Trinity College is stepped in history. Located right in the heart of the city on College Green, not only is it the main university of the city, it is also the largest research library in Ireland, housing over 4.5 million books, the most famous of which is the Book of Kells. It has also seen its fair share of famous graduates, including Bram Stoker (creator of Dracula), Samuel Beckett and of course, the legendary Oscar Wilde.

    Temple Bar
    Situated right on the banks of The Liffey, Temple Bar is the home of many of Ireland’s cultural institutions including the Irish Film Institute, the Stock Exchange and the Central Bank of Ireland. It is THE place to head if you want to experience Irish hospitality and you won’t be short of a bar or two to wet your whistle at the weekend. Which leads me onto the next thing……..

    It must surely be an unwritten law somewhere that when you travel to Dublin, you have to drink Guinness.
    If you want the full experience then head for the Guinness Storehouse in St James’s Gate where you can take a tour and discover how the brewing process works and then get a taster of the black stuff and enjoy stunning views of the city from the Gravity Bar. If you want a slightly more authentic experience then you should head for Kehoe’s pub on Anne Street. This traditional bar is situated just off of Grafton Street,so you are well within staggering (literally!) distance of other fabulous shops, restaurants and bars in the area. It’s a bit of an urban legend that Guinness tastes better in Ireland which I’ll admit I thought was nonsense until I tried it….

    If you’re extending your break in the North West before or after you get the ferry from Liverpool then you may need somewhere to stay. There are a number of hotels in the area and if you need a bit of reviving after sampling some Guinness, then take advantage of a quick spa break. You’ll find some tranquility at the Macdonald Craxton Wood Spa Hotel in Chester where you can relax and unwind before continuing your journey home.

    January 21, 2013
    by ferryadmin

    There’s snow escape…..or is there?

    DelayedSince today is Blue Monday, why not escape that January blah blahs, hop on a ferry and get away from it all for a day or two?

    If you’re sick of hearing that your train/bus/flight has been delayed (again), your fingers are frostbitten and you’re just generally missing that Christmas vibe (only 337 days to go!) then forget about it for a while and take advantage of some of the great deals available from some of the big ferry companies.

    At the moment, you can travel from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS. Check out the deals available online and start planning your escape for this weekend.

    Once in Amsterdam, there is so much to do that doesn’t involve tulips, cheese or windmills. I can’t promise the weather there is going to be any better than it is here right now, but there will be plenty to take your mind off it.

    As an alternative to the collections of Old Masters on offer, Amsterdam is becoming well known for its vibrant street art scene. You can see images all over the city, whether it’s graffiti or street sculptures. For fans of Banksy’s street style, look for the graffiti one liners of Laser 3.14 around the city.

    If you need something a little more contemplative, there is the Begijnhof. This secret garden offers the stressed traveller a quiet moment of reflection as it formerly housed a 14th century convent. It is also the principal place of worship for the English community in the area. Art fans may be interested in the fact that some of the panels which decorate the pulpit of the Kirk were designed by Piet Mondrian.

    Of course, if you still fancy more winter led pursuits, you could head for the skating arena in Heerenveen and participate in one of the skating clinics where complete novices can learn the basic moves (and maybe even a few fancy ones too!). After your lesson you can heat up again with coffee and cake in the on-site café.

    If you need a place to stay before hitting the waves, or even if Mother Nature puts the mockers on your ferry crossing for a while, there’s a variety of hotels in Newcastle where you can start or end your trip in style and arrive home again completely relaxed and refreshed.

    October 30, 2012
    by ferryadmin

    Back in action! On the way to Hull!

    Well, its been a while, a long while infact, but we’re back! Yes, humble apologies to our loyal readers but the last year and a half has been a bit manic, and we haven’t had any time at all to get on with our ferry blogging! Anyway, we’re now back in action, and have a few posts lined up which we think will go down very well.

    Firstly, we are heading to the famous Port city of Hull, England – where P&O operate their daily overnight  services to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. We are staying at a hotel in Hull for a night, then making our way across the ocean waves. Back soon with some photos and insight into the ferry experience!

    Thanks for reading.

    Hull Port postcard

    March 24, 2011
    by ferryadmin

    Ferry food

    One of the great things about travelling by ferry is that you can get some proper food on deck. recently there was a programme about Heston Blumenthal attempting to make great food in the air – and while he did a great job of inventing some dishes – the space was just too small for it to be realistically replicated at every meal time.

    On ferries you can even opt for A la carte dining, and start your trip in style.

    So, what would be your ideal ferry meal at dinner time? Mine would probably depend on what the destination was to an extent but here’s the kind of thing I like to have:

    Starter – something light, maybe some beetroot salad

    Mains – steak and chips, or if it’s on the menu, a bit of fish.

    Afters – as long as it’s sweet, I’ll eat it

    Followed by, of course, coffee.

    And if the weather’s ok, maybe an after dinner stroll on deck afterwards.

    March 17, 2011
    by ferryadmin

    Short Haul Holidays

    Last year there was a lot of noise about the staycation.

    This year there’s even been a newspaper article about the daycation, although the claim that daycations are ‘displacing the two week holiday’ is one that I’ll take with a pinch of salt, a few drops of vinegar, and a liberal application of HP Sauce.

    I mean, how many of us do a ‘daycation’ pretty much every other Saturday – heading off somewhere new to see what’s on offer? Handy if you also live near a border or the channel – even more to explore.

    March 11, 2011
    by ferryadmin

    Summer 2011 – ferry dreams

    Well summer’s here at last. Ah, ok only wishful thinking. It’s still cold, and the clocks don’t even go forward for a couple of weeks yet. Ah well, we can still dream of summer holidays.

    Last year there was a lot of talk about the so-called ‘staycation’ whereby presumably people had heard a lot of doom and gloom on the news and cheered themselves up by holidaying close and saving a bob or two.

    The thing about staycationism is that in some cases it’s perhaps a little defeatist. Like, if you live in Kent, then France is only 20 odd miles away, while Dundee is hundreds of miles away. Similarly, if you’re based in Wick then you’re closer to Stavanger than you are to London.

    All of which means that you can probably leave the British Isles easily enough, certainly as easy as some staycation options. And if you get, say, an Amsterdam ferry, then you’ve got the added bonus of actually being overseas and enjoying a bit of foreign culture and new sights as well, without straying too far across the globe.

    February 22, 2011
    by ferryadmin

    Ferry it to Europe, after that?

    Travelling overland and by ferry is a great way to see Europe. There’s a unique kind of excitement when you arrive at your port of destination. It’s entirely dissimilar from the sea of concrete that meets you at an airport. There is a mystique about the seas that simply can’t be beat for exciting and fun travel.

    Once you’re in say France or Germany, travelling by car or train really helps you get the feel of the place. If travelling by car of course you can stop whenever you want, maybe get some food from the shop and have a picnic. Trains obviously have the advantage of someone else doing the driving. Also it’s fun to be in European railway stations if you’re from the UK, because the trains go all over the place, so you’ll see trains bound for Moscow, Berlin, Barcelona, Prague. Makes a bit of an exotic change after always seeing Newcastle, Penrith and Warrington Bank Quay, anyway.

    Anyway this general topic got me thinking – what is the longest distance I have ever travelled only using boat/ car / train i.e. not when flying?

    Actually, not all that far: Scotland to Italy, and it was the south of Scotland to the northern bit of Italy. It did take ages though.

    What about you? What’s your longest over-land trip?

    February 11, 2011
    by ferryadmin

    Ferry Tales on BBC Alba (Thar an Aiseag)

    If you live in Scotland you may have been lucky enough to catch the interesting series ‘Thar an Aiseag’ (Ferry Tales) on Gaelic channel BBC Alba (don’t worry if you’re not fluent in Gaelic – there are subtitles!). The series follows the lives on everyone in northern Scotland who either work or rely on the ferry. Its a great programme, episode 3 is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer now (http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/yj6zf/).