Q. We both hate flying. What options are best for us for a sun holiday in Europe?
A Take the car. It is worth it. Increased competitions on the Ireland to France ferry routes has driven down prices, particularly in the shoulder season.
You used to save around €400 using land bridge (ferry to Britain and thence to France) but that saving has been less evident in recent summers.
The three options are Irish Ferries three times weekly from Rosslare to Cherbourg or Roscoff, Celtic Link three times weekly from Rosslare to Cherbourg, and Brittany ferries which ahs a Saturday night sailing form Cork to Roscoff during the summer.
The drive is hassle free thanks to the motorways and other improvements, and there are lots of inviting stops (Mont St Michel is an Irish favourite) as you head down the west coast of France.
Organise your first overnight five or six hours down in the Loire Valley or by the coast in the Vendee. The second night could be in Poitiers (check out Futuroscope) or the Biarritz region.
Go to a campsite or leisure complex, otherwise the French polystyrene cup motels are amazingly good value, motorway exits have clusters of them. Hotel F1 and other Ibis brands are the cheapest (think €35 for a family room), moving up in price to the Campanile, Mercure, De France, Ace, Barthotel and on another step to Pullman.
Saga organized a series of direct cruise pick ups from Dublin and Royal Caribbean did a pick up from Cobh last year – so watch for this.
An increasingly popular option is to take the ferry and drive to Southampton.
In the English port Royal Caribbean have based two ships, the 3,114 passenger Adventure of the Seas and 4,370-pasenger Independence of the Seas will be based as well as the 2,852 passenger Celebrity Eclipse.
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