20 December 2009

Brittany Ferries to withdraw year-round Poole to Cherbourg ferry crossing

After losing money on the route since 2003 Brittany Ferries has decided to withdraw the all year ferry service from Poole in the UK to Cherbourg in Northern France, although the summer service will continue.

This ferry crossing to France has been served by the MV Barfleur for the last 17 years. The vessel will be withdrawn in early February and the route will be served by Brittany Ferries' newest ship the Armorique until the last sailing on March 8th 2010.

The Poole Cherbourg route will still be operated in the summer, from May to September, by the fast ferry high speed cat the Normandie Vitesse,capable of carrying 185 cars across the Channel in just 2 and a quarter hours, and the freight service will continue to be operated by the Cotentin.

Click for more information on the Poole to Cherbourg ferry crossing.

18 December 2009

DFDS to take over NorfolkLine

DFDS Seaways have announced that they have taken a substantial stake in NorfolkLine Ferries, effectively giving them ownership of the company. This seems to us a sensible move for both companies. It will create the largest ferry operator in Northern Europe, with a combined fleet of 73 ships - 2 of Norfolk Lines' ships are being disposed of.

The deal makes sense because Norfolk Lines is strong on the Irish Sea and operates a successful route from Dover to Dunkirk, whereas DFDS is strong on North Sea ferry crossings from the UK to Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Drive-Alive works with both DFDS and Norfolk Line so we look forward to continuing to offer these ferry crossings to our customers. We will keep you informed of any further developments.

DFDS routes, timetables, prices and booking.
NorfolkLine routes, timetables, prices and booking.

15 December 2009

Not much news but still some great prices on ferries, self-catering and camping.

Sorry the news has been slow in coming recently - there just is not much of it! And availability over the Christmas and New Year period is now getting scarce, especially for self-catering apartments in the ski resorts, although there's still plenty of availability in Swiss resorts.

Most of our partners continue to offer competitive prices in order to attract your business in these hard times, so we thought we'd remind you of some of the best buys:

Ferry crossings to France, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands:
P&O Ferries Dover Calais from £25 each way for a car and up to 9 passengers.
Norfolk Line Ferries Dover Dunkirk from £19 each way car and up to 4 passengers.
Brittany Ferries Portsmouth Caen from £66 each way for a car and 2 passengers.
Eurotunnel Folkestone Calais via Channel Tunnel from £42 each way car and up to 9 passengers.
Stena Line Fishguard Rosslare from £75 each way car and driver.
P&O Ferries Hull Zeebrugge from £109 each way including ensuite cabin for car and 2 passengers.

Self-catering early booking discount:
Many of our properties are on offer with a 10% discount for early booking, applicable if you book more than 9 months ahead of your stay. So now's the time to think about next August summer holidays, and since holiday homes rental costs in August are in the hundreds of pounds there are big savings to be made. Search self-catering holiday homes here.

Camping holiday savings:
Talking of summer holidays, Eurocamp are offering various incentives to book early, plus loyalty bonuses and family discounts, similarly with Keycamp, and both companies offer easy payment options. Plus the earlier you book the better your choice of parcs and locations.

20 November 2009

DFDS Ferries special short break offer

DFDS Seaways is launching a 72 Hour Sale on Friday 20th November, with up to 40% savings on 2 night mini cruises from Newcastle to Amsterdam. But the offer ends on Monday November 23rd, so be quick!

Find out more and book a DFDS Ferries short break to Amsterdam

Enjoy Stylish Amsterdam from £45pp. Midweek short breaks on selected dates until the end of the year - save up to 40%:
2 nights onboard ship in an en-suite cabin
Coach transfers to and from the city centre
Optional complimentary coach sightseeing tour
Live entertainment onboard
Selected Midweek Departures; 23rd, 24th, 25th, 30th Nov & 1st, 2nd, 9th Dec.
From £45pp HURRY – Offer ends Monday!

Friday departures from £50pp:
2 nights onboard in an en-suite cabin
Coach transfers to and from the city centre
Optional complimentary coach sightseeing tour
Live entertainment onboard
Selected weekend departures; 27th Nov, 4th, 11th, 18th Dec.
From £50pp HURRY – Offer ends Monday!

Find out more and book a DFDS Ferries short break to Amsterdam

16 November 2009

Fuel prices in Europe

We've just published the latest figures we have for the cost of petrol and diesel in Europe. We have converted all prices to Euros, although of course you need to pay in local currency in those countries which are not in the Eurozone.

As ever, because of the difficulty of collecting these figures, we only manage to publish about once every three months, and already we know for certain that prices have risen in some of the countries, including the UK. But at least these figures help to compare prices in different countries, so if you're taking a trip across borders you can fill up where it least hurts your pocket.

Petrol and diesel prices in Europe

4 November 2009

Norfolk Line wins "Best Ferry Company" award again

For the second year in a row Norfolkline has been voted "Best ferry company" by the readers of the Guardian and Observer newspapers and the guardian.co.uk website. This is the 23rd year for these awards and winning them represents a real vote of confidence in Norfolk Line. No fewer than 19,248 people took part in the overall voting.

When you bear in mind that the competition includes established companies like P&O Ferries, SeaFrance and Brittany Ferries, this is quite an achievement. So congratulations to Norfolkline from Drive-Alive. Click for information and booking on the NorfolkLine service from Dover to Dunkirk (Dunkerque).

Their rates are always very competitive and are often the cheapest on the ferry crossing to France.

Eurostar snow train to the French Alps

The Eurostar snow train to the ski areas of the French Alps will be running this coming season every Friday evening and Saturday morning. These are all direct trains with no need to change. They depart from London St Pancras, calling at Ashford Kent, and arriving at Moutiers, Salins and Bourg St Maurice either Saturday morning (the Friday evening departure) or Saturday evening (the Saturday morning departure). The return journey leaves Moutiers and Bourg either Saturday morning or Saturday evening.

From the arrival stations in the Alps bus and taxi transfers are available to nearby resorts such as Courchevel, La Plagne, Les Menuires, Val Thorens, Val d'Isere, Les Arcs and others.

This is a great way to get to the slopes and the Friday night train means you can ski all day Saturday. And there are no restrictions on how much luggage you take and no surcharges! Eurostar claims the journeys are carbon neutral so you can ski with a clear conscience.

Click for more information on the Eurostar snow train.
Click to book the Eurostar snow train.

27 October 2009

Stena Line Ferries come on board

Drive-Alive Holidays is very pleased that Stena Line Ferries are now partnering with us, along with all the other major ferry companies. The Stena Line routes are from the UK to Holland and between England, Scotland and Ireland.

This is good news for our users as we can now offer you links to book these crossings directly from our website. Since we have several hundred hotels in Ireland and a good selection of self-catering cottages and holiday homes you can plan a driving holiday to Ireland without leaving our website. Click to find out more about Stena Line ferry crossings to Ireland.

The Stena Line route from Harwich to the Hook of Holland is very convenient for those in the East and South-East of England who want a more direct way of getting to the Netherlands, Germany or further into Scandinavia. Click for more information on the Stena ferry crossing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.

23 October 2009

Brittany Ferries new ship the Armorique - Plymouth to Roscoff

Earlier this year Brittany Ferries launched their new ship the Armorique on the ferry crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff. We've just taken a return crossing and thought you might like to know our opinion of her.

The first thing that strikes you is the sense of space everywhere - even the car decks are completely free from the feeling of claustrophobia all too common on old ferries, and there's plenty of room for manouvering. Everything is fresh and new, although we did find the bright and lively colour scheme throughout the ship a little garish. Subtle and restfull it is not!

The basic 2 berth cabins are comfortable enough, and all have their own little en-suite shower room and loo. 4 berth cabins are also available as well as more expensive options with all mod cons, including TV, right up to the luxurious Commodore class cabins.

The spacious theme is continued even in the public toilets, a far cry from the cramped loos of older vessels. The two cinemas on board are extremely comfortable, with 21st century surround sound which actually shakes the floor!

We ate in the self-service restaurant, and the food was well up to the standard set by previous Brittany Ferries self-service eateries. However, we were disappointed to find no proper restaurant on board. One of the pleasures of using the ferries to France instead of Eurotunnel or flying is being served a lovely meal while gazing out of the window at the ever-changing sea-scape. A strange omission from a French-owned ship whose clientele would surely have appreciated the restaurant experience.

But overall the experience was positive, with the added benefit of the faster daytime crossing time of just five and a half hours. And the staff are very friendly and helpful and really go out of their way to help make this crossing an enjoyable way to start and finish your trip.

Click to find out more about the ferry crossings from Brittany Ferries.

13 October 2009

Book your winter train journey in France now

From Wednesday 14 October ’09, French trains running on the new winter timetable will go on sale. The timetable change from summer to winter schedules takes place on Sunday 13 December ’09.

The winter timetable features increased services on routes popular with skiers, such as the Paris to Bourg St Maurice overnight service, which runs every night throughout the winter ski season.

Normally, French trains can be booked a maximum of 3 months in advance of the date of travel, but the change over to the winter timetable means that the booking horizons change slightly for a couple of months.

From 5am UK time on 14 October ‘09, passengers will be able to book rail travel in France for dates between 13 December ’09 and 13 January 2010 inclusive.

The 3 month rule applies again from 15 October, until 5 November ‘09, when sales open for trains running between 5 February and 8 March ’10 inclusive.

For any trains running after 8 March 2010, the usual 3 month booking horizon will apply, so anyone wanting to book a train on 9 March will need to wait until 9 December ’09.

Click to book your train journey in Europe

6 October 2009

Change of vessels for LD Lines ferry crossings to France

LD Lines' fast catamaran ferry Norman Arrow is transferring from the Dover Boulogne route to the Portsmouth to Le Havre crossing, although she will only operate for six months during the Spring and Summer, from Easter to September next year.

The benefit is that journey times will be reduced to three hours 15 minutes compared to conventional ferry crossing times of five hours 30 minutes (daytime) or eight hours (night).

The downside is that the Norman Spirit ferry is being transferred in early November from its current Portsmouth to Le Havre route to begin operations on LD Lines' Dover to Boulogne service. This means over the winter LD Lines ferry users from Portsmouth will only have the year-round conventional ferry Cote d'Albatre to use until the Norman Arrow arrives at Easter.

But the Norman Spirit can carry many more vehicles than the Norman Arrow fastcraft, and the popular Dover Boulogne service is in need of this extra capacity.

Book all LD Lines' ferry services with Drive-Alive.
For information on all ferry services from the UK to France.

15 September 2009

Bristow v Deller darts challenge on P&O Ferries to Spain

In 1980 'The Crafty Cockney' Bristow first won the World darts title, only for baby-faced Deller to beat Bristow by six sets to five in 1983, becoming the youngest World Champion ever. Deller also holds the record for the fastest game ever, scoring 301 in just 97 seconds.

The pair will be the star turn for a special Darts Challenge mini cruise on board the cruise ferry Pride of Bilbao sailing from Portsmouth for Bilbao on the evening of Saturday 17 October. The itinerary for the three-night mini cruise gives time for a shore excursion in Spain, with popular options including the Guggenheim gallery, the old city of Bilbao, and the fishing village of Castro Urdiales. And facilities on board the ferries to Spain include cinemas, shops, bars, restaurants and live shows.

So visit the P&O Ferries page on the Drive-Alive website and book a ferry crossing to Spain with the prospect of some great "arrows" to enjoy en-route.

13 September 2009

Fuel prices in Europe

We have just published our latest survey of petrol and diesel prices in European countries. It is difficult to keep up to date with the rapid changes in fuel prices, so please treat this as a guide to the cost of petrol and diesel, not the actual prices. The prices for petrol and diesel are reasonably accurate as at the end of August 2009.

We publish this guide to the cost of fuel in Europe as a service to our users and we hope you find it gives a useful indication as to which country to fill up in when driving abroad to achieve the best prices. We try and update it about once every three months.

Click for the price of diesel and petrol in Europe.

11 September 2009

Disneyland Paris Halloween discounts

Halloween Festival at Disneyland® Paris : Trick n’ Treat

The Halloween season (3rd October – 1st November 2009) is one of the most popular times for UK guests to visit Disneyland Paris. There's a mega month-long party, with all kinds of Halloween related activities during Disney's Halloween Festival!

Throughout the Halloween period there's a great offer that no-one can miss; All Your meals for FREE! In addition this offer can be taken along with the current "Kids go free", meaning all children under 7 get free entry to the Park and stay free at one of the hotels featured in the package, and, with the Halloween offer, you and the kids get free meals too!

Click to find out more about these great offers and for information on Disneyland Paris and how to get there.

24 August 2009

LD Lines ferry crossing UK France - change of port Rosslare Cherbourg

If you use the ferry crossings between Ireland and France this is good news! LD Lines is making changes to the direct ferry service between Ireland and France. Previously the ferry crossing was from Rosslare to Le Havre. From September 19th 2009 the French port of Cherbourg will be the destination port in France. This move will allow LD Lines to offer increased crossing frequency and shorter crossing times.

LD Lines’ ship the Norman Voyager will operate this ferry route, with six return sailings each week, compared to the two sailings to Le Havre, and with a crossing time of 17 hours, 5 hours less than the time to Le Havre. The Rosslare to Cherbourg ferry will be operated by the recently launched Norman Voyager, introduced by LD Lines in November 2008. The vessel has capacity for up to 800 passengers and 200 cars. On board facilities include 110 cabins, bars, restaurant and lounges. LD Lines' Norman Voyager will operate exclusively on the new Cherbourg – Rosslare service.

Click for more information and to book a LD Lines ferry crossing from Rosslare to Cherbourg.

7 August 2009

Camping holiday discounts


visit the Eurocamp website and book something quickly!

40% off all holidays taken before August 20th
35% off all holidays taken between August 21st and 27th
30% off all holidays taken between August 28th and 31st.

We've just heard about these pretty amazing discounts, so here's a quick newsflash in case you'd like to take advantage of these offers from one of the UK's top camping operators, with quality campsites throughout Europe. These are fantastic offers and will be snapped up, so visit the Eurocamp website and book something quickly!

6 August 2009

Wildlife watching with Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries and ORCA, a leading marine conservation charity, have joined forces to offer passengers the opportunity to see whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. Brittany Ferries sails twice weekly to Santander in Northern Spain from Plymouth and Portsmouth, and as the ships cross the Bay of Biscay there are excellent opportunities for sightings of these amazing marine mammals. Wildlife education officers from ORCA are on hand to help identify the creatures and answer any questions about them.

This is a great opportunity to travel in comfort to a beautiful part of Spain and have the opportunity to get up close to species ranging from Harbour Porpoises to the mighty Fin Whale, the second largest animal on Earth.

More information and links to book Brittany Ferries services to Spain.

5 August 2009

Amsterdam festivals 2010

Amsterdam is a city of broad canals lined by elegant merchant houses, a city where people know how to enjoy themselves, and a city with some of the best museums and galleries in Europe. Amsterdam also has one of the busiest festival calendars in Europe, with everything from carnivals, open-air theatre, film, dance and various music festivals. For a full line-up visit the Amsterdam Festival website.

Amsterdam offers a huge choice of hotels at all price levels, so search and book hotels in Amsterdam here.

Amsterdam is easy to reach by car on either DFDS Ferries from Newcastle to Ijmuiden or P&O Ferries from Hull to Rotterdam. Or travel by train on Eurostar and fast onward connection.

27 July 2009

P&O Ferry website top performer

Cross-channel ferry operator P&O is one of the most usable travel websites in the UK, according to a study of 18 leading sites.

The eDigital Research Travel Benchmark report used mystery shoppers to rate for first impressions, search, the booking process, and customer service.

With a score of 86% the P&O website came top of the 18 travel booking sites surveyed, with easy usability and good contact details in case of a problem. And with currently some great offers, fast and comfortable modern ships and frequent sailings, this report provides another incentive to visit the P&O website to book your ferry journey.

7 July 2009

10 Scenic rail journeys in Europe

Rail Europe has got together with experienced travel writer Anthony Lambert, a seasoned traveller on European railways, and the outcome is a guide to great scenic journeys by rail in Europe.

These are excellent guides for those growing number of travellers who not only choose the greener option of rail travel, but who also appreciate how relaxing and hassle-free train travel can be compared to flying. And on journeys like those featured here there is the added benefit of fantastic scenery and great places to visit en route.

Find out more about great scenic rail journeys in Europe.

For more about train travel in Europe.

6 July 2009

Special offers on camping holidays

If camping is for you then here is an excellent offer from Eurocamp and Keycamp, valid for all bookings made by July 29th.

The Eurocamp and Keycamp Price Freeze means you can book accommodation in a luxury tent or mobile home for 2010 at current prices with the option of staggered payment. All you need to pay now is a low deposit of £50. In other words, secure your camping holiday price for 2010 and pay for it in instalments! More on the Camping holiday price freeze.

23 June 2009

Disneyland Paris Bargain Prices

If the recession has a silver lining it's in the discounted prices that Disneyland Paris are offering. You can get a whopping 40% off a package stay if you book Disneyland Paris before 15th July. What’s more this great offer can be combined with the Kids Under 7 Stay & Play for free offer! This means that a family of four can now stay in a Disney Hotel from as little as £248.40 (including Park Tickets & Breakfast). With a little luck these bargain prices from Disneyland Paris mean that things are quiet, so you might even find the queues smaller than usual. More information and links to book Disneyland Paris.

19 June 2009

Cost of a car accident abroad

If you are taking your car abroad this summer, be aware that in some countries accident repairs are much more expensive than in the UK.

Aviva Insurance tells us that Germany is the costliest country for crash repairs, with the average cost £2940, or twice as much as the average across Europe.

In France the average claim for personal injury is £10000, so do your best not to have an accident there!

Other destinations where an accident could cost you dearly include Austria and Switzerland, with an average cost of £2,265. whilst Belgium is the third most expensive country in Europe and a crash could cost up to £1,617.

These figures make it even more important to ensure that you have good quality fully comprehensive vehicle insurance in place. Although the old Green Card is no longer required, and most insurance companies do not issue them now, you should still contact your insurer to let them know you are driving abroad.

In addition make sure you have vehicle breakdown insurance which covers taking your car to Europe. This causes some confusion. It is not the same as your car insurance, and many breakdown policies only cover the UK. If you need European breakdown cover we recommend Green Flag as the company offering the best mix of cover and cost.

17 June 2009

Shortage of hire cars

The car hire industry is forecasting a shortage of hire cars this summer. Because of the recession they haven't bought so many cars this year, apparently. So if you're thinking of flying and want to hire you should book sooner rather than later. Of course, we don't do flights at Drive-Alive, but we do trains, and many people are taking the train to Europe then hiring a car. Both our car hire partners are very competitive on price, well-established, and have cars in hundreds of locations across Europe. Try Auto Europe or Argus Car Hire and we're pretty confident you'll find what your looking for.

10 June 2009

Save up to 40% on Mini Cruises with DFDS

DFDS Seaways operate from Newcastle to Ijmuiden near Amsterdam and from Harwich to Esbjerg in Western Denmark. Although the vessels are primarily intended as car ferries, they have plenty of facilities on board and DFDS is keen to promote what they call mini cruises, where you travel as a foot passenger. They offer straightforward mini cruises where you either stay a night or two at your chosen destination, or you can just spend a few hours ashore. Or you can check out their wildlife mini cruises, city cruise breaks and cottage holidays. We've chosen to highlight these because currently they are all on offer with up to 40% off.

As this is a blog we don't have the space to feature details on these offers, but you'll find them all by following the links on the Drive-Alive website:

Special offers on DFDS mini cruises, holidays and ferry crossings

If you'd prefer the trip to Denmark, and would like to take your car why not combine the Øresund Region of eastern Denmark and southern Sweden - two countries in one destination. Enjoy the cosmopolitan buzz of Copenhagen, Denmark's capital city. Studies show that the Danes are among the happiest and most content people in the world - and the Danish capital is a great place to find out why! Then cross the Øresund Bridge to the laid back city of Malmö, in Sweden, for another unique Scandinavian experience. With Denmark's sophisticated capital on the one hand and Sweden's rugged natural beauty on the other, you'll discover almost endless possibilities for days of exploration within a fairly small geographical area.

5 June 2009

Senior Railcards in Europe

As you may know Drive-Alive has a sister website for train travel in Europe, with links to sites where tickets can be booked. We've recently been asked if other European countries offer a discount card for senior citizens, similar to the Senior Railcard available in the UK.

The answer is yes, although there seems to be a trend for these to become less widely available. The other problem is that we know of no UK website where these cards can be pre-booked, or where the discount can be claimed online. So it looks as if the only current option is to either try and book on the rail booking website of the country you are visiting, or wait until you arrive and then buy your card and tickets.

If anyone knows of a site where railcards and discounted tickets can be booked, we'd like to hear about it. In the meantime, here is a link to the most comprehensive information about senior railcards we've been able to find.

3 June 2009

LD Lines Launches Fast Ferry Dover Boulogne

LD Lines has started its new fast ferry service from Dover to Boulogne with their brand new, high speed wave-piercing Catamaran. The vessel is the world's largest diesel-powered catamaran and is claimed to provide a whole new level of comfort compared to the older fast ferries operated by Hoverspeed (now of course defunct, along with the hovercrafts). These old vessels were unaffectionately known as vomit comets! The crossing time will be just 1 hour and LD Lines promise fast loading and unloading. The new fast ferry crossing, together with the existing ferries, means there will now be six return sailings daily between Dover and Boulogne, with fares starting from just £24 single. Click for full timetables, prices and bookings.

29 May 2009

Holidays in Germany

How about Germany for a few days? It's easy to reach by car, just a days drive from Calais or Dunkirk, or you could take the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and drive through the Netherlands for a few hours. Germany offers pretty much everything, except perhaps warm sea. There are medieval towns like Augsburg, modern cities such as Berlin, Hamburg or Frankfurt, and countless kilometres of forests, hills and lakes, great for activity holidays of all kinds.

For a huge variety of different ideas, with events and cultural activities, visit the German National Tourist Office website.
The Drive-Alive website tells you all you need to know to book ferries, and you can book hotels in Germany and search and book hundreds of self-catering properties throughout Germany as well.

28 May 2009

Events in Lyon France

Lyon is a great city for a short break. Here are a few things happening in June and some links to find out more or to book accommodation:

From June 5th until August 1st visit the Nuits de Fourvieres Arts Festival. This is a programme of rich and varied theatrical and musical events held in the region's Antique Gallo-roman theatres - built by Augustus in 15 BC, they are some of the oldest antique theatres in France. Or go to the newly re-opened Museum Gadagne with its amazing display of puppetry. For this and more things to do in Lyon visit the Lyon Tourist website.

There is a wide variety of hotels in Lyon, ranging from budget to 5 star opulence. And Lyon is considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of France.

Special Fares for June bookings with LD Lines

LD Lines Ferries are offering some pretty special fares for bookings made by June 15th for sailings up to the end of September. Dover to Boulogne car plus 4 passengers £27.50, Dover Dieppe and Newhaven Dieppe car plus 2 £37.50, Portsmouth Le Havre car plus 2 £47.50. All fares one way. To book visit the Drive-Alive LD Lines ferry crossing page.

Driving in Europe

This is the first post for the Driving in Europe with Drive-Alive blog. My name is Stuart Mee and I am the MD of Drive-Alive Holidays Ltd. There's already masses of information on our website about driving in Europe, together with links to book everything from ferries to self-catering, camping and hotels.

The intention is to post all the information we receive on a daily basis from tourist offices, hoteliers and other people involved in the holiday industry in Europe, information we simply cannot find room for on the website and which is often time-limited, such as special offers. We also get told about things like festivals, cultural events and sporting occasions, so keep an eye open here and you'll know what's happening where.

You should still use the website for country-specific information on driving laws, rules and regulations, as these rarely change.

But check back or subscribe to our RSS feed to ensure you don't miss anything. We hope you find this blog useful.