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Ferries run to mainland Spain regularly from the Canary Islands, Italy, North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla) and the UK. Most services are run by the Spanish national ferry company, Acciona Trasmediterránea Tel: 902 45 46 45
Acciona Trasmediterránea runs daily ferries from Alicante to Oran (13 hours, leaving at 7pm) and from Almería to Ghazaouet (eight hours, leaving at midnight) in Algeria.
An Acciona Trasmediterráneacar ferry leaves from Santa Cruz de Tenerife (5pm) and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2pm) every Saturday for Cádiz. It’s a long and bumpy ride, taking about 48 hours from Santa Cruz.
Ferries run from Genoa to Barcelona three times a week and up to six times a week from Civitavecchia (near Rome).
You can sail from the Moroccan ports of Tangier, Al Hoceima and Nador, as well as from Ceuta or Melilla (Spanish enclaves on the Moroccan coast) to Almería, Málaga, Algeciras, Gibraltar and Tarifa. The routes are: Melilla–Almería, Al Hoceima–Almería, Nador–Almería, Melilla–Málaga, Tangier–Gibraltar, Tangier–Algeciras, Ceuta–Algeciras and Tangier–Tarifa. All routes usually take vehicles as well as passengers. The most frequent sailings are to/from Algeciras to Tangier (taking 1¼ to 2½ hours) and Ceuta (35 to 45 minutes). Extra services are put on during the peak summer period (mid-June to mid-September) to cater for the stream of Moroccans resident in Europe heading home for the holidays and the Tangier–Tarifa route may be restricted to people with EU passports or EU residence papers during this period. Acciona Trasmediterránea and various other companies compete for business. A weekly service between Genoa (Italy) and Tangiers calls in at Barcelona as well. It is run by Grandi Navi Veloci (Grimaldi). The trip takes 24 hours and leaves Barcelona at 7pm.
From Milbay Docks in Plymouth, Brittany Ferries (0870 3665 333 in UK; www.brittanyferries.co.uk) runs a car ferry twice a week to Santander from mid-March to mid-November.
Throughout the year P&O Ferries (0870 5980 333 in UK; www.poferries.com) operates a service from Portsmouth to Bilbao. As a rule there are two sailings a week. Acciona Trasmediterránea (0871 7206 445 in UK; www.atferries.com) launched a similar service in 2006.
You can transport your car by Hoverspeed or ferry to France from the UK. Hoverspeed (0870 1642 114; www.norfolkline-ferries.com) fast boats take about two hours to cross from Dover to Dunkirk. P&O Ferries (0870 5980 333 in UK; www.poferries.com) has frequent car ferries from Dover to Calais (1¼ hours).