08th June 1999


<p>Summer ferry fares to and from Northern Ireland are the best value they have been for years.</p>

The General Consumer Council said that their annual ferry fares survey shows that peak brochure fares are lower than last summer. In addition, the introduction of lower cost Apex fares mean that, this holiday season, a family of four can cross to Scotland for £170 return. On top of this fares to Heysham, England, now start at £200 Apex return. Joan Whiteside, Chairman of the Consumer Council said: “This is welcome news at last for local consumers. Two years ago the Council criticised the high ferry fares out of Northern Ireland. A wider choice of routes and more competitive prices are now available. On top of that, the introduction of Apex fares is a bonus for those who can take advantage of them.” Overall, the Council said that shopping around for ferry deals could produce large savings this year. Apex fares have added a new lower cost option for ferry users who can finalise and book their travel arrangements early. If you want to retain the option to change sailings, midweek, late night or short stay journeys can be much cheaper than the peak brochure prices. The drawbacks of Apex fares are that they must be booked and paid for before 30 June 1999 and do not allow for any changes, amendments or refunds. There is also limited availability of Apex fares on each sailing. In the Republic of Ireland, fast ferry fares have rocketed, coinciding with the withdrawal of duty free sales. The Consumer Council said that this should not affect those travelling out of Northern Ireland. Mrs Whiteside said: “Sailings between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have never had duty free sales to subsidise fares. Therefore, fares should not be raised as the result of the withdrawal.” Peak Ferry Fares from Northern Ireland Stena (Belfast/Stranraer) - £338 in July compared with £360 last year (- 6%) P&O (Larne/Cairnryan) - £326 in July compared with £355 last year (- 8%) Seacat (Belfast/Troon) - £306 in July compared with £368 to Stranraer last year (- 19%) Apex Fares 2 Stranraer, Cairnryan, Troon - Peak sailings cost £230 on all routes Stranraer, Cairnryan, Troon - Off-peak sailings start at £170 Heysham - £270 on peak sailings and £200 on off-peak sailings. Other Special deals this summer Norse Irish Ferries will more than halve their fare to Liverpool (£250 compared to a peak fare of £530) if passengers travel on their daytime sailings rather than the night-time. ENDS Notes to Editors 1. Fares relate to a family of four travelling in a saloon car. 2. Further information or interviews can be obtained from Alan Walker on 01232 672488