Ferry or fly: which is cheaper?

Beth wants to do a road trip of her own and must choose between flying to Tasmania and hiring a car, or catching the ferry with her own vehicle. Turns out, where cash and comfort are considered, it’s not a difficult decision at all.

Q. Beth
My hubbie and I want to go to Tassie and for a week-long road trip. I have been told by friends that it may be cheaper to fly there and hire a car, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. I know it’s a bit lazy of me, but can you help me do the sums and weigh up the pros and cons? We’re coming from Healesville, which is an hour north of Melbourne. Should I fly and hire or take the ferry and bring my own vehicle?

A. Well Beth, first I must say that I envy you. A Tasmanian road trip is high on my agenda and I’ve recently asked myself a similar question. So, you might like to know that I’ve already done a fair bit of the research and I’m happy to share it with you.

Now, I’ve taken the Spirit of Tasmania to the Apple Isle before, and I loved it, so I may be a little biased in my findings. In fact, if I’m being honest, the decision to take the ferry or fly is not a difficult one at all.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. When cost is king, the Spirit will set you back about $740 return. That’s for a night sailing between 3 July and 20 December 2017 for two people in a twin bed cabin with your car included.

couple in a twin room on the spirit of tasmania

Pretty good, right?

Now, if you were to fly in July from Melbourne to Hobart and back again a week later, and hire a basic manual sedan, you’d be up for a minimum of about $800. That’s assuming you’re under 70 years of age, because some hire companies won’t rent to over 70s. You’ll also be required to leave a $1000 security bond and, if you want insurance, to add an extra driver or to lower excess fees, you’ll be up for another $20 to $40 per day.

If you fly you’ll have baggage restrictions, transport costs to and from the airport (or parking costs) but you will get to Tassie much quicker and if you don’t have time on either side of your planned week away, it may be your best bet. Your hire car will be new and nice, but unfamiliar and quite possibly costly if you damage it. You’ll also find that you need to stick to sealed roads. Overall, it will be more expensive.

If you take the ferry over, you won’t have baggage restrictions, you could take your pet (if you’re so inclined), your car is already insured and you’ll be familiar with it. Plus, if you cop a stone chip or a dent you won’t be slugged with $1000 excess to have it fixed. If you’re prone to being seasick, you may have some trouble, but it’s nothing that can’t be sorted with some Dramamine or an acupressure bracelet. And you might have to book a few months out too, because car spots fill up well in advance.

couple on the spirit of tasmania

As far as an experience goes? Well, I can’t recommend the Spirit enough – and it’s been refurbished and, no doubt, improved since I was last on it. It’s like being on a short cruise. Your holiday begins as soon as you board and as soon as you arrive in Tassie you can drive away. You’ll have access to holiday-planning assistance onboard, you can watch a movie, eat fine Tassie produce or sit in the lounge and drink superb Tassie wine and beer. Plus, there’s a range of activities to keep you occupied or you can crash in your comfy room and sleep the whole way.

As I said, I loved travelling to Tassie on the Spirit of Tasmania, so it’s impossible to hide my bias. That’s the way I’ll be doing it when I head for my road trip later this year.

If you want to book a berth on the Spirit, head to www.spiritoftasmania.com.au

If you’d like more info on budget fly and car hire packages, you could try www.tigerair.com.au, www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au or check out www.webjet.com.au and add car hire to your airfare.

Hope that helps!

Related articles:
Hobart, Tasmania
Take three in Tasmania
10 reasons to visit Tasmania

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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