Euro 2016 Northern Ireland fans to set sail as price of flights spirals
Northern Ireland football fans have been thrown a lifeline when it comes to travelling to France for the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament.
As flight costs have already spiralled, P&O Ferries is slashing prices for Euro 2016 fans by £50, which could help supporters on a budget save a fortune.
The company is also giving away 10 free trips to the upcoming tournament, which will see Michael O'Neill's men take on the cream of Europe.
Their fixture list involves an opening game against Poland, followed by Ukraine, before concluding their group phase against the reigning world champions, Germany.
Things are now looking up for the Green and White Army, who could avoid shelling out the hundreds of pounds being charged for direct flights to Paris and other French locations.
Larne-based firm P&O, which has been crossing the Irish Sea for 40 years, is offering fans the chance to save £50 on their crossing, to celebrate Northern Ireland and the Republic's qualification.
"We are the only ferry company in Europe which has routes across both the Irish Sea and English Channel," commented Neal Mernock, P&O Ferries' sector director on the Irish Sea.
He added: "The offer which we are launching gives football fans the opportunity to travel on our route from Larne to Cairnryan in Scotland, and then down to France via Dover and Calais."
The £50 discount on travel to France will run from June 8 to July 12 next year, and is available on the Larne to Cairnryan and Dover to Calais routes.
Fans hoping to watch all of Northern Ireland's games will embark on a trek of more than 600 miles through France, spanning nine days.
Prices for some flights have already shot up considerably.
A direct flight to Nice for Northern Ireland's opening game against Poland begins at an eye-watering £415, which is more than four times the normal price.
Flights for Lyon and Paris, where Northern Ireland will also play, have also spiralled.
The Green and White Army is expected to invade France in record numbers ahead of Northern Ireland's first appearance at a major tournament for 30 years.
Travel expert Simon Calder has said that fans who are heading to the Euros on a budget should avoid the airport - clearly hinting that sea is the way to go
P&O's new football fan-friendly ferry offer is also valid for long breaks, while both the Irish Sea and English Channel journeys must be booked at the same time.
P&O sails on a series of major routes between Great Britain, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic, Holland and Belgium.
It operates a total of 20 ships which are capable of carrying more than 10 million passengers and 1.6 million vehicles each year.