Dan Rang - May 6, 2024
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According to an analysis by Omio, a booking platform for travel transportation like trains, buses, flights, and ferries, many ferries operating on popular routes in Europe are equipped with amenities like those found on small cruise ships. The study evaluated the ferries' comfort, entertainment, and service features on 50 popular routes, ranking the best ferry connections for families looking for a comfortable and affordable vacation option that can be accessed by car ferry.

Some ferries are similar to small cruise ships

Many popular seaside destinations can be reached not only by plane but also by ferry. Classic ferry routes include the connections between the German coast, Norway, and Sweden. However, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and even Mallorca can be easily reached by ferry, too.

Nowadays, many ferry providers have invested significantly in improving the comfort of their ships. Some ships are designed like small cruise ships and offer many onboard amenities such as shopping, entertainment, dining, and wellness. Some providers also provide overnight crossings with accommodation in private cabins and bathrooms to save time. This means travelers arrive at their destination feeling even more relaxed.

The most family-friendly ferry takes holidaymakers to Sicily

An excellent option for families looking for a comfortable and well-equipped ferry ride is the "GNV La Superba" ferry, which operates between Genoa in northern Italy and Palermo in Sicily several times a week during the high season. The ship has all the features reviewed for comfort, including private cabins with a view of the sea, free WiFi, live entertainment, à la carte restaurants, a shopping deck, play areas for children, and a wellness package included in the ticket price. The ferry can accommodate about 3,000 passengers and 1,000 vehicles and is one of Europe's four least expensive ferry routes, costing around 0.26 euros per kilometer for a family of four (without a car).

Other comfortable car ferries run between Livorno (Tuscany) and Bastia in Corsica and between Genoa (Liguria) and Porto Torres and Olbia in Sardinia, offering similar comfort and convenience for families.

Passengers can choose from private cabins, live entertainment, wellness treatments, shopping, and dining in first-class restaurants with table service. Families who prefer to travel by car can take advantage of these options to explore the beautiful islands of Corsica and Sardinia.

Price war: ferry beats flight 

Ferry travel can be a more cost-effective option than flying, according to a recent price analysis of 14 selected routes. In 12 of the 14 cases, the ferry was significantly cheaper than the flight, sometimes by up to 86 percent. This was particularly true for the popular Scandinavian route from Frederikshavn, Denmark, to Gothenburg, Sweden (compared to Aalborg-Gothenburg by plane). The ferry service from Dover, England, to Calais, France, was even cheaper than the famous Eurostar train, by around 6 percent. On average, the price difference between flights and ferries was a significant 49 percent, demonstrating that taking a ferry trip can result in substantial savings.

The cheapest and most expensive ferry routes

Based on the travel distance and ticket price, a comparable price per kilometer can be determined to help find the cheapest ferry routes. One of the most affordable routes is the car ferry connection between Kiel in Germany and Klaipėda in Lithuania, which costs a family around 0.10 euros per kilometer. The distance between these two cities is approximately 1,200 kilometers.

Another inexpensive option is traveling from Stockholm in Sweden to Turku in Finland, which costs around 0.14 euros per kilometer. Other connections that cost less than 0.30 euros per kilometer include Copenhagen-Oslo (0.23 euros/km), Genoa-Palermo (0.26 euros/km), Stockholm-Helsinki (0.29 euros/km), and Karlskrona in Sweden to Gdynia in Poland (0.29 euros/km).

However, passenger ferries tend to be more expensive. For example, the excursion connection between Trapani in Sicily and the island of Favignana costs a family around 91 euros (5.94 euros/km). The most expensive car ferry in the study is the ferry route that connects the Italian coastal town of Piombino with Portoferraio on the holiday island of Elba. A family pays at least 114 euros or 4.22 euros/km for the crossing, and the car ticket cost varies depending on the vehicle type.

Advantages of the Ferry Over the Flight 

• No luggage restrictions

• You can bring your car

• You can bring your dog

• More climate-friendly

• Inexpensive

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