This edition in my world borders series is slightly long overdue. The reason being I have been on this route more times than I can remember. It was back in 2008 – 2009 that I worked on car ferries in the south of England. I was based in Lymington, Poole and Weymouth. But most of my sailings were from Poole. I worked on the Poole to Cherbourg route with Brittany and Condor Ferries combined. I also worked on the Poole to Jersey and Poole to Guernsey routes, as well as going to St. Malo in France and previously Wightlink ferries from Lymington to Yarmouth. One of the crossings I never mentioned before on here was the Poole to Jersey journey.
To all intents and purposes, the ferry from Poole in England to St. Helier in Jersey is crossing into a different country. The Channel Islands are not part of the U.K. although the Queen is the head of state. Jersey and Guernsey (and Sark, Alderney and Herm) are self governing. I’ve written a bit more about the situation in Jersey on my top sights of St. Helier and St. Lawrence article.
To do the sailing from Poole, you book the ferry with Condor Ferries to Jersey. The full sailing times and guides vary, but you can view it on their website. We booked two adult ticket returns for £130, so that’s £65 each return or £32.50 each way. Compared with some border crossings and visas I’ve paid for in the past, this doesn’t seem too bad. We went as foot passengers. Car passengers obviously pay a bit more. I’m writing today about the trip I made in October 2015, although my first time on this ferry was in May 2009.
Leaving Poole, England
We checked in around 70 minutes before the boat was due to leave. Myself and my mate Austin were booked on the 9.30 a.m. sailing. On arrival at the harbour in Poole, we checked in using our reference number and were issued with our tickets at the desk. To get to the ferry terminal, there is no public transport so you have to either walk from Poole town centre, or get a taxi. We did both, walking is only 25 minutes from the bus station. I’ve covered my top sights in Poole before.
The tickets come in three segregated parts. Your boarding card (taken off you on boarding), your landing card (taken off you on landing) and the remaining part has your ticket and seat number.
We waited in the departure lounge for around ten minutes and then we were ready to board. You get your ticket checked then go through a brief security check. The security check is the same as a security check in an airport. After that, we got on a bus to take us from the terminal to the ferry. There was no passport or I.D. check, but there may be on occasion.
We were travelling on the Condor Liberation which is a trimaran vessel. It is different to the ferries that I worked on in 2009 – this is a newer and slightly larger vessel.
You can choose to leave your big bags into the luggage and they take them onboard for you. This is the place where I took the infamous “doors border photo”. It’s literally like something out of Dr. Who or the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. One door is Jersey, the other is Guernsey. (for baggage though, as the ferry stops in Guernsey first).
We get a bus from the terminal to the gangway entrance, then walk up the gangway onto the ferry. Again this had me reminiscing about my time in the job on the ferries. I once said that Gangwayman was the easiest job in the world. To this day I have yet to have an easier job than that!
Once on the boat, we walk up the steps to the passenger deck and find our seats. We had seats booked, but the ferry wasn’t busy so in essence you can sit wherever you want. We sat in our allocated seats anyway.
We left Poole in England at 9.30 am sharp as expected and had a slow sail down Poole harbour. You get good views of the harbour at Poole from the boat and then the boat speeds up as we head towards Guernsey first of all. Guernsey is the first stop.
Stopping at St. Peter Port, Guernsey
At around 12.05 pm, ahead of schedule, we stop in St. Peter Port in Guernsey.
I’ve toured Guernsey before as well as Sark and Herm, and we didn’t get off here this time. Some of the cars and passengers get off and on here and then we leave again for St. Helier in Jersey. There is no customs check in Guernsey if you stay on board. If you get off, you may be asked questions or for passport or I.D.
We stayed in Guernsey until just before 1pm as we were ahead of schedule.
Things to see and do on the Condor Liberation Ferry
On the way across, the ferry has a number of facilities on board. Here are some of the things you can do to pass the time. The journey from Poole to Guernsey takes around 3 hours and a further 1 hour to Jersey.
1.Duty Free Shop
Each passenger has a duty free allowance, so pop into the shop and use it. You can save a lot of money on perfumes, aftershaves, beers, wines, spirits and tobacco.
2.Out on Deck
Views on deck are stunning and if you are feeling sea sick – it’s a great place to get fresh air!
Back in 2009, Chris Bilsland and I worked in what we nicknamed “Cafe Cherbourg”, here serving a range of hot food, drinks and snacks. Prices are actually quite reasonable and you can pay in British pounds, Channel Islands pounds or Euros. It’s also licensed to sell alcohol, though I brought my own Channel Islands beer on with me.
There is a bar without a bar area! So you can order beers on tap, but they come in plastic pint glasses and there is not really a bar area to hang out in or mingle in, different to the Liverpool to Belfast ferry and the Melbourne to Devonport ones. It’s called the Island Bar.
5.Kids Play Area
If you are travelling with kids, there is a play area for the children.
If you have a higher budget, you can pay extra for a couple of other zones – the Ocean Club and the Ocean Plus. Barack Obama is rumoured to have once sat here.
The exclusive lounge at the front is called Ocean Plus and has a separate bar and cafe section with better seats and views out the front of the ship. No chance would I pay the extra as a budget backpacker, and besides I used to work on these vessels so trust me – it’s not worth the extra money. Spend the extra on a few jars in Jersey or Guernsey instead!
They have a magazine on board for reading, Sure, it won’t last you five hours but it does gives you some of the key sights to see in and around Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.
9.Condor Comedy Club
It doesn’t quite have the same sense of humour and lunacy as it did when Chris and I worked on these vessels, but they have some random comedic signs up to keep you amused.
Arrival into St. Helier, Jersey
Just before 3 pm, we arrived into the port of St. Helier in Jersey. Car passengers head to their vehicles first and then foot passengers head down the gangway into Jersey. As I mentioned on the other article, Jersey is not part of the U.K., but it is a Crown Dependency. Passports are not strictly checked, however there are security checks made on arrival. These are random and spontaneous, so be prepared to be stopped for a few minutes to answer questions and have your bags checked. First is the baggage claim area, then immigration.
Austin and I were two of the unlucky ones who got checked on the way in, I asked for a passport stamp, but they no longer issue them here. I travelled on a U.K. and on an Irish passport and neither were needed or checked.
On arrival into St. Helier, I walked to my excellent hotel, the Ommaroo Hotel and we were free to explore Jersey once again.
Here are my videos of the crossing from Poole in England to St. Helier in Jersey:
And for old times sake, here is a video of me at work on the Condor Ferries service to St. Helier in Jersey in 2009, which I somehow still have. The ex-girlfriend can suck it, I still kept some of my memories, Noemi: