Given the enormous amount of daily ferries to and from Corsica and Sardinia, you can safely say that most people choose the boat to cross the sea. But choosing the most suitable ferry service is not easy (though –I hope for you – it’s fun!).
There are 3 major companies that maintain a ferry service to Corsica:
Tips: what to take into consideration, when choosing a ferry service, place and time
A link to sample Calculations: to give you an idea what it will cost, we have some sample calculations.
Search and Book: on this page you can search and do test bookings. And if you have found the right ferry, you can also book directly!
Tips for choosing the right ferry
Every day many ships sail to Corsica, you can safely say that most people choose to go by boat. There are 3 major ferry lines that travel to Corsica: Moby Lines, Corsica and Sardinia Ferries and SNCM / CMN.
With aFerry, Overtocht.nl and Traghetti Lines / Ok-Ferry, you can compare the various options and make a reservation.
If you have no idea of prices …. I have made indicative sample of calculations for an outward journey on Monday, July 16, 2012 and return journey on Friday, August 10, 2012. You can find them here.
If you’re going to figure out which ferry or ferry operator is suitable for your trip, you can do a test booking. This means making a reservation just like a real booking, but when you have to pay you stop. By that time you usually know more than enough!
Tip: It is also possible to buy a one-way ticket with a company and go back with another company: even to different ports!
What should you pay attention to if you decide to book (digitally)? There are 5 main items: route, distance, arrival and departure, night boat / day boat and of course the cost.
Would you like to cross over from France or Italy? Find out the distance from your place to a harbour in France or Italy. The most important harbours are:
France: Marseille, Toulon, Nice
Italy: Genua, Savona, Livorno, (and harbours more to the south)
And if you arrive on the island? Do you still have to travel far? Corsica has several harbours where ferries moor. The 6 most important harbours: Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi, Ile Rousse, Propriano and Porto Vecchio. Sardinia has 4 important harbours: Porto Torres, Olbia/Golfo di Aranci, Arbatax en Cagliari
So you can cross from Italy or France, but it’s not just about the distance on land, but also the distance by sea. Livorno may take another 2 hours traveling by car, but the crossing is so much shorter than e.g. departing from Genua. Another factor that might influence the sea trip: the speed of the boats! And that can vary enormously. Crossings may take anything from 3 to 15 hours. If you don’t want to spend too much time on the ferry, the obvious choice would be the shortest crossing. Generally, if you make a “test booking” the crossing time will be mentioned. Incidentally, not all ferries allow a trailer or caravan.
Arrival / departure
This is perhaps the most important point! Because, if the ferry leaves at 8.00 am, you will need to be in the port at 7.00 am. Will you be able to get there that early? Or suppose you arrive on the island at 21.30. Can you still find accommodation? The same applies when you go back.
Night or day boat
A useful option may be to take a night ferry. If you arrive on the island early in the morning, you will have a lot of time to drive to you holiday destination at leisure. Well rested and showered. Again, the same holds good for the return trip.
For a night ferry, you can book a cabin or a chair. But you can see many travellers boarding the ferry armed with a mattress, to find themselves a place to sleep. If you are with 5 people and you book a cabin for 4, you can put down a mattress yourself in the cabin for that 5th person. You all have access to a private shower and toilet in the cabin! (For the record: almost all ferries state that it is NOT allowed to sleep in your caravan or motorhome!)
Considering the above, you can look for the cheapest crossing. You can make use of a travel agency, of course, but it can also easily be done through the websites of the ferry companies. (Test booking!) And then you will discover that: one trip may be up to 4 times more expensive than the cheapest crossing. This will take some figuring out: some companies have the same price at the same time every day; with other companies prices differ from day to day. On Tuesdays, for example, prices are often a lot lower than on Saturdays. Sometimes it helps enormously to book early. If you take the night boat, you will often have to book a cabin. That will cost at least between 50 and 100 euros. But this may save the cost of lodging en route.
Checklist for a choice of hundreds of sailings:
Night or day boat
Route: a French or Italian port or does it not matter
Departure time in port practicable?
Arrival time make sense? Search for a camping / accommodation. (also for return!)
With or without a trailer (caravan, trailer, tent trailers are not always allowed)
Port of arrival is important?
Day of crossing important? Weekend is sometimes much more expensive.
Length / duration of crossing important = ranging from 3 to 15 hours?
Discount = most important is an early booking
Bonnefooi? Choose a port with several departures per day.
On the off chance, is that possible?
Especially with a trailer/caravan is it important that you reserve! We have been on boats where all the decks were full of cars, trucks, caravans and motorhomes ….. but you may go on on spec.
If it does not matter:
what time your departure is
what time you will arrive on Corsica/Sardinia
whether you have a fast or slow boat
whether you have a night or day boat.
Well, in those cases “NOT booking” could be a good option …..
If you’re a pedestrian and the boat would be full (which is hard to imagine) you will have wait for the next boat ….
If you have just got a car, in most cases there will be enough place. You may have to wait until the next boat. In the above cases, it is useful to choose a port in advance, where many boats depart.
A number of companies offer considerable preseasonal discounts. It remains to be seen whether you will also get these discounts if you buy a ticket at the port.
Another advantage of advance booking is: you do not have to search for the ticket office. In the harbour you wave your e-mail printout from the car window and everything will be okay!
What time do you need to be in the port?
Although we did see last-minute travellers waving their e-mail ticket and drive past just in time to catch the ferry, the companies ask for you to be present about an hour to 1.5 hours in advance, if you arrive by car. It is important to the ferry companies that the parking lots be filled efficiently, ensuring an optimum loading of the boat. Foot passengers are required to be there half an hour before they embark.
You can cross from Sardinia (Terese Gallura, Porto Torres and Olbia) to Corsica (Bonifacio, Propriano, Porto Vecchio) and vice versa.
Time to figure things out … right? Go to the links or box above!
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Wilge!Corsica and Sardinia in English