Despite Guernsey being only 3 hours from the mainland, we had never got around to visiting this historic island. Also, with the recent publicity and release of the film “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society,” we thought it was about time we crossed the channel and actually see Guernsey for ourselves.
Taking the ferry seemed to be the best option as you can just load up your car without any luggage weight restrictions, yes you can pack the kitchen sink! Simply drive to the port and when you get to Guernsey you already have your own transport to explore the island. So no need to rent a car or wait for buses and taxis.
The quickest route is the Condor Ferries fast ferry service, the ‘Condor Liberation’ from Poole to Guernsey which takes 3 hours. They also operate a conventional service from Portsmouth which takes 7 hours. As we are not the best sailors, (I was once sick on a boat simulator) we opted for the fast service.
Arrival And Check-In
It was grey overcast morning when we arrived at the terminal in Poole but more importantly, there wasn’t a breath of wind and the English Channel was as calm as it gets. As we had an E-Boarding Card the check-in was quick and easy. Just a reminder, the check-in opens 2 and a half hours before the departure time and closes for vehicles an hour before sailing.
While waiting to board in the area before customs you are able to get out of the car and use the toilet but once you pass customs you have to stay in the car until you are onboard.
It must have been my face as we were pulled over by customs for a vehicle search. They were surprisingly polite and didn’t make you feel like Pablo Escobar.
Driving onboard was easy, the car deck was better lit than expected and there were plenty of staff directing you. Also, although the vehicles are tightly packed it didn’t seem as cramped as expected, you could actually open the doors to get out.
There are two levels of car deck and two staircases, one marked orange and the other marked green. Make sure you know where you have parked as when it was time to leave I did see a few people wandering the car decks aimlessly trying to find their car, it’s surprising how many people have grey or black cars!
Once you’ve parked your car you can go straight to the passenger lounge.
Onboard The Condor Liberation
Every passenger on the Condor Liberation ship has a pre-assigned airline-style seat. There is also an upgrade option to ‘Ocean Plus’ which is at the front of the ship with panoramic views, tables and power supplies. Finally, there is the ‘Ocean Club’ private lounge which has a steward service offering complimentary tea and coffee.
As it was so calm we did try the food from Casquets Bistro, a counter service dining option but if you are in the Ocean Plus lounge you can place your food order at the Horizon Lounge and Bar.
Although you couldn’t really feel the motion of the ship we did go for something simple to eat, a jacket potato which was very good and had a decent amount of filling. If you wanted something a bit more substantial there was a varied menu including fresh lasagne, steak pies, a children’s menu and a nice looking vegetarian chilli.
If you do want some fresh air there is a public viewing area. You can watch the interesting coastline and the millionaire houses on the Sandbank peninsula as you leave Poole Harbour.
Don’t forget your Duty-Free shopping in the onboard shop, this opens once you leave the port. Top of on your perfumes, aftershave, wine and of course, chocolate!
Remember the Channel Islands are not part of the EU so the maximum allowances are lower – 4 litres of wine and 1 litre of spirits. Also, these allowances are strictly enforced by the customs officers when you disembark.
Arrival At St Peter Port, Guernsey
After the coffee, food and shopping it was soon time to return to the car as we were approaching St Peter Port. Guernsey is the first stop for the ferry in the Channel Islands, it then goes on to Jersey which is an hour further.
Luckily we remembered where we parked the car but as mentioned earlier, we did see a few people wandering the decks looking for their cars. Leaving the ship was easy and again the staff were helpful directing you.
The only issue we noticed was that if you are travelling with your supercar with minimal ground clearance, getting up the ramps could be an issue. Fortunately, we had left our Ferrari at home for the weekend.
As we left the ship, the grey skies cleared and we had two days of dry sunny weather. We will definitely visit Guernsey again, maybe a little longer next time which will give us time to explore some of the other islands.
Have you visited the Channel Islands? Do you have any hints and tips for first timers?
Condor Ferries – Our First Trip From Poole To Guernsey – Pin For Later
*Thanks to Condor Ferries for inviting us on this press trip.