Stena Line, the world’s largest ferry company, has seen its travel business bounce back in Britain and Ireland this year.
Figures for the first half of the year show that passenger numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels, while car numbers in particular are far higher than in 2019.
The car number increase was most striking on the Irish Sea. With the cost of car hire in Ireland being the highest in Europe, it is no surprise that people are instead opting to travel by ferry and take their own cars to either Belfast, Dublin or Rosslare, the ferry company explained.
However, the increase was higher than expected, with the numbers of passengers taking their cars up almost a third (32%), compared to 2019.
In the North Sea sector, it is a similar positive story, with the number of passengers taking their cars on ferries travelling between Harwich and the Hook of Holland at higher levels than all of their competitors combined, Stena claimed.
The numbers also beat levels on the popular shortsea routes, as car drivers opted to avoid delays on The Channel by travelling via the North Sea, where cars increased almost 11% on this key arterial route that serves not only The Netherlands, but also Central, Eastern and Northern Europe.
Paul Grant, Trade Director for the Irish Sea (pictured), said: “Problems in the airline industry, high car hire prices and ongoing concerns over COVID, all seem to be encouraging more and more people to switch to ferries and take their own cars with them on holiday.
“Ease of check-in, no queues at security, no baggage charges, no car hire costs, the advantage of being able to put your full allowance of duty free in your car and drive from door-to-door, all make taking a ‘car-cation’ by ferry an attractive option for travellers,” he said.
In recent years Stena Line has invested heavily in its ferries. Its Stena Plus and Hygge Lounges, and range of cabin options, with extensive entertainment packages, allow passengers to travel in comfort and style.
There are restaurants and cafés, cinemas, games rooms, play areas and newly expanded duty free shops on board.