Looking to take car and 2 people from somewhere in England to somewhere in Ireland and return - sometime May 2015 - I'm getting web page quotes like 320 pounds - seems too high. Suggestions for cheapest fares please.
A bit more clarity please, Jeff.
When you say "somewhere in England", what do you really mean? The only Irish Sea crossing from England, the nation, that I am aware of is from Liverpool.
Or do you mean Great Britain, the island, which includes two more home nations, Wales and Scotland, both of which have the prime ferry routes to the island of Ireland?
When you say Ireland, do you mean the country or the island? Ferries go to both Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Do you mean car plus you and 2 more? Or you, the car and one other?
Check with your car rental agency about taking the car on the ferry to another country to see if it is covered or even allowed.
The previous comment is the case even if remaining in the UK. Cheapest routes on a quick look include Liverpool to Belfast and Fishguard to Rosslare if you are including routes from Wales. Each around £120 each way.
http://www.seaviewferries.co.uk/ is a pretty comprehensive site for finding appropriate ferries. Some rental companies won't let you take the British car on the ferry, so the usual advice is to rent separate cars for each country. Read all the fine print on the rental agreement. If you haven't driven there before, see also http://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/driving-in-great-britain-and-ireland.
I've taken my car to and from the UK to Ireland many times over the years. Although there are several ferry operators, and several routes, stretching from Scotland - Northern Ireland, to Wales - Republic of Ireland, fares are closely matched and there's generally little to choose between. Having said that, there are a few things to consider when pricing a journey:
- If you plan to travel during UK school holiday periods, you will pay a lot more - if you can, avoid those weeks. There is one in late May, for instance.
- There are fast ferries (catamarans) and regular ferries - the fast ferries charge a premium over the regular ones, as they take slightly less time on the routes they operate. However, to save fuel and thus expense (the cats are thirsty beasts), the catamaran crossing time has slowed over the years, as they sail slower then they used to (Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire used to be 90 minutes - it's over 2 hours now on a cat)
- Many of the sailings offer a 'premium' service - preferential boarding; separate lounge; free snacks etc). This costs more.
- Overnight crossings often cost less (lower demand).
To conclude, you can easily pay over £400 for a car plus passengers in peak season, but much less out of season - so choose carefully.