With many travelers worried about flying for environmental reasons, or blocked from it by the coronavirus crisis, an old means of travel is getting a new look from many European travelers. Recent surveys document the rise of ferry fervor.
Ferry routes linking European ports, and especially those of the UK and Ireland, have been seeing a slow but steady regrowth in recent years, after taking a beating from a combination of the Channel Tunnel and budget airlines. The pace has picked up in recent months.
Two surveys by The Independent (UK) have shown ferries out on top for preference over rail, air or bus. In the broader survey, which asked “In the age of coronavirus, on which of these forms of public transport would you feel most comfortable?” 43% selected ferries, 29 percent chose rail, 23% air and only 5% favored road transport.
Ferry travel dropped by about half between its peak year of 1997 and 2019, with the decline steepening after 1999 when duty-free shops on the boats were shuttered. Number of longer routes stopped operating. The slow recovery noted in the past couple of years has been accelerated by a perception that ferries are a safer, open-air and distance possible means of travel, and for some, they're just more fun.