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Travelling from Southampton to Newcastle is cheaper on cruise ship than by rail or air – with cabins from £99

Passengers aboard a veteran cruise ship will this week sail from Southampton to Newcastle for less than the cost of a rail or air ticket.

Fred Olsen Cruises has been selling cabins aboard Balmoral on a “repositioning” voyage from the Solent to the Tyne for just £99 per person. Passengers are promised “two nights of Fred Olsen’s small ship cruising” along with “delicious food, entertainment and service”.

The vessel departs from Southampton at 7pm on Wednesday 28 February and arrives in Newcastle at 6am on Friday 1 March – with passengers pay under £3 per hour.

The price saves £4 on a super off-peak single on a CrossCountry train.

Balmoral is making the voyage between two cruises to view the Northern Lights and the coast of Norway. One finished at Southampton early on Wednesday morning, and the next begins from Newcastle on Friday evening. But the voyage also offers intercity travel at a bargain price.

All the cheaper cabins have now gone, but a “superior ocean view” cabin is still available at £149. That is £12 less than Loganair is currently charging for the 70-minute flight from Southampton to Newcastle on Wednesday or Friday. The Scottish airline is selling some flights on the route for £88 by booking well ahead.

On the pilots’ forum Pprune, “Rog 747” wrote: “I want to fly up soon from (preferably) SOU [Southampton] to see an old pal in NCL [Newcastle] for a couple of days, taking a small cabin bag.”

He said the return air fare from Southampton was “around £360”. But he later wrote: “I have now done a complete swerve.” He had booked a cabin at £99 on Balmoral, and a flight back from Newcastle to London Heathrow using Avios points.

On course: Two-night voyage from Southampton to Newcastle (Fred Olsen Cruises)
On course: Two-night voyage from Southampton to Newcastle (Fred Olsen Cruises)

Unlike the train and plane, cruise passengers can look forward to bathing in one of two pools and unlimited food in the six restaurants. Meals and facilities are included in the cost of the cruise; drinks in the seven bars and lounges are extra. But Balmoral does not have six water slides and a rock-climbing wall, as found on the recently launched Icon of the Seas – the world’s biggest cruise ship,

Fred Olsen says of Balmoral: “Her smaller size is a huge asset when it comes to creating itineraries that go off the beaten track and into less visited ports and waterways.”

The voyage will take passengers east along the English Channel during darkness, before turning north at Dover into the North Sea. The scenic highlight is likely to take place on Friday when passengers may catch a glimpse of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Balmoral was built in 1988, making her one of the oldest cruise ships in regular use. Her most notable voyage was in 2012, when she was chartered for a “Titanic Memorial Cruise”. The plan was to follow the planned route of Titanic from Southampton via Cherbourg and Cobh to New York – coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star liner, which cost 1,514 lives.