Deals Of The Week: Eurostar, Rosyth-Zeebrugge, Spain and Portugal, passport renewals

A TRAIN

Does Eurostar have something against single people? Solo travellers may draw that conclusion from the special winter offer from London Waterloo and Ashford to Aachen and Cologne. The fastest rail journey via Brussels to Cologne is now just six hours. A fare of just £75 return applies for travel until 15 December. But the conditions are rigorous. You must book two weeks in advance through Eurostar (08705 848 848, www.eurostar.com); stay a Saturday night or a minimum of two other nights; and travel with at least one other person. A better bargain, given the extra space and free food and drink, is the £125 first-class return; again, this is restricted to groups of two or more. The restriction is designed to stop business travellers from taking up an offer designed for the leisure market.

Single travellers may prefer to fly from Stansted to Cologne with Germanwings (020-8321 7255, www.germanwings.com), the new no-frills airline from Lufthansa. This week, fares for travel in the first two weeks of December have been widely available at £45 return.

A BOAT

Despite some prophets of doom predicting the downfall of the ferry link between Scotland and Belgium, the Rosyth-Zeebrugge service is very much afloat. All North Sea ferry operators have problems filling ships in November and December, though: Superfast Ferries (0870 234 0870, www.superfast.com) has two low-season deals that can be combined to give a lowest price of £26 return – but, as with the Eurostar deal above, only if two people travel together

The Supersaver deal, which allows a maximum of two nights to be spent in Europe, costs £52 for an aircraft-style seat, and £103 per person in a two-berth inside cabin. But if you travel out or back on a Tuesday, you qualify for another bargain, which is that two travel for the price of one. The overnight trip takes around 18 hours.

A PLANE

The rise in no-frills airlines has obscured the good-value scheduled flights to Spain and Portugal offered by Monarch from Luton and Manchester. If you book before 18 November, you can fly from Luton to Alicante, Faro, Malaga or Menorca for £39 each way, or from Manchester to Alicante, Faro or Malaga for £49. These prices apply equally if you book through the website, www.flymonarch.com or by phone on 08700 40 50 40.

A PASSPORT

You can now renew your passport nine months before it expires, without losing any validity. If your travel document is due to run out in August 2003, for example, you can renew it now and it will be valid until August 2113. For more details call the UK Passport Service Adviceline on 0870 521 0410, or visit www.passport.gov.uk.

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