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To celebrate National Ferry Fortnight, we take a look at Britain’s ferry routes, ships and what’s on offer to passengers. Plus, we have an amazing prize for you to win! 

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One of the best things about ferries is that they’re much more hassle-free and affordable than flying.

There’s no standing in queues for hours, you can take as much luggage as you can fit in the car, and there are no sneaky hidden charges like you get when you fly.

There are also a surprisingly large number of places that you can get to by ferry. Whether it’s somewhere close to home like the Orkney Islands or the Isle of Wight, or across the ocean waves to Europe, there’s a destination to suit every family’s holiday plans.

Who wouldn’t want to visit Legoland in Denmark or taste chocolate in Belgium? Or maybe you’d prefer a trip to Disneyland Paris or the northern coast of Spain?

And a ferry is so much more than just a way of getting from A to B. With shops, restaurants and play areas, there’s so much to do that you probably won’t want to leave! They’re environmentally-friendly too, producing fewer greenhouse gases than planes.

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Plus, did you know that you can also take your pet abroad with you? As long as you get a pet passport from your vet, you’ll never need to leave your dog or cat at home again – they can enjoy the family holiday too!

Britain’s passenger ferry network now includes over 75 routes, with more than 178,000 sailings annually crossing the Channel, North Sea, Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay to serve Britain, France, Denmark, Holland, Ireland and Spain, and also serving islands off the mainland including the Channel Islands, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man and the Scottish Islands. Every journey is scenic and a sense of adventure and excitement comes for free!

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Last year, the 12 key ferry companies carried nearly 33 million passengers, 7.8m cars and nearly 140,000 coaches, offering a reliable, no-hassle and economical way to take a family on a holiday break – with virtually no luggage limitations.

In recent years, ferry operators and port authorities have invested millions of pounds in modernising their fleets and streamlining facilities to make ferry travel an even more pleasurable and efficient way to travel. Ferries range from the very latest state-of-the-art superferries with fine dining, comfortable cabins, shopping and entertainment facilities, to the more traditional, open-deck ferries tailored in size to the demands of the ferry route they serve and the seas they navigate.

Did you know?

1. People have been using ferries as a mode of transport for hundreds of years – the first recorded Isle of Wight ferry service dates back to 1420. 

2. Nowhere in Britain is more than 74.5 miles from the sea.

3. This year alone, ferry companies have taken a rare white lion, orangutans, alpacas, giraffes, pigs, frogs, lizards, parrots and even a snow leopard on
their crossings. 

4. Condor Ferries, who travel to France and the Channel Islands, use over 320,000 slices of bacon a year. That’s more than enough to provide the entire population of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Sark with a bacon buttie. 

5. The world’s largest car ferry is Irish Ferries’ MS Ulysses, which can take up to 2,000 passengers and weighs in at over 50,000 tonnes. That’s more than 7,000 elephants put together! 

6. The Stena Hollandica and Stena Britannica are the world’s second largest superferries. Each ship is longer than two Big Bens laid end-to-end.

7. The two largest Channel superferries, P&O Ferries’  The Spirit of Britain and The Spirit of France cost more than £300 million for the pair.

8. If you knotted all of the sheets together from the cabins of Brittany Ferries’ Pont-Aven, you could escape from a 1,200-storey building! 

9. The routes across the Channel, Bay of Biscay and the Irish Sea are an ideal place to spot whales, dolphins and other marine life.

10. Caledonian MacBrayne’s ferries offer a lifeline service to the islands off Scotland’s west coast, where for many islands the only way to get there is by sea. The services supply islanders with everything, from delivering their post and milk to transporting children to school and essential medicines to hospitals.

WIN!

Britain’s original ferry operator to the Isle of Wight, Red Funnel, is over 150 years old and is joining in with the National Ferry Fortnight celebrations. First News has teamed up with Red Funnel and the top English Heritage historical attractions on the island, Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne, the former royal residence, to offer you and your class an educational day visit to remember. And you will travel in style in a luxury Lucketts Travel coach!

What your class will see

 All three of Red Funnel’s vehicle ferries – the Red Osprey, Red Eagle and Red Falcon – carry coaches on their hourly ferry services across the Solent from Southampton to East Cowes. The ferry trip for your school coach to the Isle of Wight will take under an hour, and the captain will show your class and accompanying teachers around his ship, including the bridge.

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On arrival on the island, your Lucketts Travel coach will take you on the short trip to the historic motte-and-bailey Carisbrooke Castle near Newport.

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Over 800 years old, the castle has had a colourful history, successfully resisting a siege by the French and seeing off the Spanish Armada! In the months prior to his trial, Charles I was even imprisoned there. During your visit, you can dress up as Norman soldiers or Civil War troops and eat your packed lunch in the grounds before meeting the castle’s famous donkeys.

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The Lucketts Travel coach driver will then whisk you to East Cowes and the stunning Osborne, the royal family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, where they lived with their nine children. Built between 1845 and 1851, you will see on a guided tour that the family was brought up in truly regal surroundings. To finish your trip to the Isle of Wight in style, you’ll get to relax on Queen Victoria’s private beach.

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Finally, you will return to the mainland by Red Funnel ferry, in good time for your coach to be met by your parents at school.

It should be a ferry good day out for everyone!

How to enter

With your classmates, simply design a poster to illustrate ferry travel.

Send your entries to First News Competition, Red Funnel Press Office, Four Communications, Communications House, 48 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7FG by 15 April 2013. Don’t forget your teacher’s name and contact details.

Important: You and your class must travel on an agreed date during the summer term, arranged with all parties. You will need to bring your own packed lunch and tea with you.

Terms and conditions: 1. Prize is for a class visit for up to 35 people plus up to 5 teaching staff/school representatives. 2. The closing date is 15 April 2013. One winning entry will be chosen by the Red Funnel judges from all valid entries received 3. The winning school will be notified in the week commencing 20 April 2013. 4. The winning school must mutually agree a date for travel and visits in the summer term with Red Funnel, English Heritage and Lucketts Travel Coaches. 5. The winning school must report to the Red Funnel Terminal in Southampton by 10am on day of travel. 6. Entries should be posted to the address above. It is the responsibility of the winning school to get full parental consent for the trip, and be in charge of their class at all times. 7. Red Funnel and English Heritage reserve the right to cancel the crossing and visits, should weather or operational circumstances require. 8. A full list of the school party, with names and ages should be submitted seven days before the day of travel. 8. The school may be required to provide written details and photographs of the trip, taken by the pupils, and to give their consent for publication in a future issue of First News. 9. By entering, schools consent to photographs of their visit being used by Red Funnel or English Heritage in educational marketing materials. 10. The prize is non-transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash. 11. The promoter is Red Funnel Ferries, 12 Bugle Street, Southampton, SO14 2JY

 Visit www.discoverferries.com – your one-stop-shop for up-to-date information and news about travelling by ferry

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Competition closed

Sorry, this competition has now closed.