The question was: How to get from the Southern most tip of England to Ireland with a dog? The answer was a car ferry, and we wanted the shortest crossing in case Bella wasn’t happy with this decision of transport! The answer to that is high speed ferry and there is only one and that is from Northern Wales across the Irish Sea into Dublin. Off the Isle of Wight, back to the UK mainland of Southampton and up the motorway to North Wales! An all day journey.
We were able to see fantastic Castles in North Wales on our way out to the tiny tip of Holyhead on the island of Anglesey, where the fastest ferry from the UK to Ireland is. Under 2hrs vs almost 4 hrs, at all the other crossings. Irish Ferry is like a giant cruise ship that happens to carry cars underneath. The only bad thing is No dogs allowed on deck; so either they stay in your car or they have kennels on board for them. With Bella having her bed and toys in the car, we chose to leave her for the journey in the bowels of the boat,in our car and leaving me a nervous wreck for 2hrs. All was for naught, as she did Famously and it appeared she slept the entire way and was all groggy as we greeted her on the dock of Ireland. (you are not allowed to stay in the car or go check on your car during the trip)
There’s a huge duty free shopping on the Irish Ferry and lots of good deals so go ahead and shop as we didn’t see that selection for the rest of the trip. Ireland is not big into gift shops and souvenirs.
Our return trip from Ireland To Scotland, was also from a tiny upper North Ireland tip called Larne, 30 min from Belfast and also under 2 hrs. A much bigger, slower, as we covered less ground and not as nice. But, It landed us right on the shores of Scotland at Cairnryan which is a gorgeous West shore of Scotland in the Galloway Park district and just gorgeous country and seashore.
Getting off a ferry and arriving into the gorgeous countryside, with no noise and chaos of an airport or train station and all your stuff and car right with you, is just the most exciting wonderful way to travel we have discovered. The cross over of less than 2 hrs is so relaxing, gorgeous views and no complaints. The arrival into Scotland was much better than Dublin which was commercial and a bit chaotic but not too bad.
We highly recommend it, its not cheap but you have ALL your luggage, your dog, there is NO security which was astounding, they don’t even check passports. Walk all around a huge ship so no cramped spaces, comfy seats with tables, Restaurant and bar (we didn’t partake and it looked like airplane food only a bit better) but all very easy and no cramped leg space. Next time you travel, check it out, we think it is the only way to “fly” now and will always search it as the best solution for future travels.
If you don’t have a car and want to travel on a ferry, you can also be a walk on passenger to the ferry. Unsure how the luggage works but they bring you on via an airport style shuttle and then return you to shore the same way. You don’t have to have a car to travel via ferry.