Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cheap ferry tickets hunt on

If you're a canny consumer like me (aka you're just tight with your money) then you may well have already come across Martin Lewis' MoneySavingsExpert website which offers a host of financial advice - articles on the best and cheapest credit cards, telephone providers, mortgage advice, how to take on the banks over unfair charges, custom search engines to find the cheapest airline tickets, etc, etc. I can highly recommended MSE.

And as well as the articles and weekly 'money tips e-mail newsletter' there's an active and vibrant forum where literally tens of thousands of people share their own money saving ideas and experiences.

Recently the forum website has run a Great "Cheap Ferry Tickets" hunt to poll readers advice as to how and where to get the cheapest ferry tickets and which ferry booking comparison sites are worth using or not.

The article started off by suggesting that and were a good starting point as aferry was the underlying search engine used by many other of the comparison sites. There then started off several rounds of debate from other forum posters as to whether they'd never found aferry to give a good price or were generally satisfied with aferry's prices.

After a couple of months and 70-odd comments and postings against the original article there's a lot of different people's opinions now as to which ferry operator and booking site they prefer.

So I thought I'd conclude with my own 2p worth as after 5 years of French Gite ownership we've pretty much tried all the ferry options now ....

We started off with joining Brittany Ferries Property Owners Club and used them quite a bit for the first couple of years on the Portsmouth/St Malo, Portsmouth/Caen and Portsmouth/Cherbourg routes until they just became too expensive for us to use regularly.
We then switched to SpeedFerries and their low cost Dover/Boulogne service was our mainstay for the next few years until they went bancrupt in late 2008.
And now we're a bit undecided.
We've tried NorfolkLine's Dover/Dunkerque service last year (and are travelling with them again in August this year), LDLines' Portsmouth/Le Havre route (for the return journey at Easter this year), and Condor Ferries Weymouth/St Malo (on the Easter outbound crossing).

One route that we haven't tried yet is LD Lines' new fast-cat from Dover to Boulogne, and as long as the prices are reasonable we will probably give them a go soon.

I've not exhaustively tried all the different ferry booking comparison engines because I've tended to find that they were no cheaper, and sometimes more expensive, than booking direct with the appropriate ferry company. We've therefore pretty much always cut out the middle man and booked direct. Having said that we did book our August crossing with NorfolkLine through because they had a special offer of £29 each-way crossings - even in peak season.



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