Which Cross Channel Ferry would suit me best? – a question we get asked often. Bridget Keep gives the Pros & Cons;
There are so many options now for crossing to France so here is a comprehensive guide to the Pros and Cons of the various options;
Dover to Calais ferries
By far the cheapest and also frequent crossings the time taken is between 1.10 mins and 1.30 mins. If you do miss the ferry at least you know there is another along in an hour or so! The ships themselves offer excellent facilities with restaurants, bars and duty free on board! The downside being on the northern most coasts can be the drive time and subsequent tolls on the auto routes to get to where you want to go.
Portsmouth to Caen / Cherbourg / St Malo/ Le Havre
These ferries are the most expensive and space in the school holidays is limited so you may need to book early. The French ports are in the Normandy and Brittany areas so can cut out a good deal of driving for many holiday makers. The crossings fall into 2 categories;
Approx. 7 to 8 hours to cross offers either cabin accommodation, which though expensive, offers a good night’s sleep leaving you refreshed for the journey the next day.Or the reclining seat option which can be a lottery – whilst the seats are quite comfy it’s a lottery as to who your neighbour is(I swear I always end up with the seat next to the snorer of the year!) but it’s possible totake a pillow on board and escape to find a spare quiet seat somewhere else. Facilities onboard are excellent and include restaurants and bars alongside a cinema and children’s amusements.
The Fast Craft;
These are smaller vessels which take only 3 to 4 hours usually to cross. Bars and restaurants on board are excellent. There is usually an early crossing which lands in France around lunch time but there are only two or three crossings a day. The disadvantage is due to the size of the boat it can feel the swell of the ocean more in bad weather and the size of long vehicles and trailers is limited! The dearest crossing but a favourite option with many travellers. Remember though… miss this ferry and it’s a long wait until the next one!
Hull to Zeebrugger
Often overlooked this is a convenient way to cross to lakes in the west of France. The service offers an overnight crossing but you need to be at the port usually by around 6pm to board. It cuts down on driving and tolls and facilities are generally very good. Ideal if you live in the North of England as it cuts out the M1/M25 and English motorway mayhem.
Portsmouth/ Plymouth to Santander
The most expensive of all the crossings arrives into Northern Spain and is a mini cruise in itself! It can be used for Southern French holidays to cut down on driving and motorway tolls.
Slightly more expensive than the ferries but offers the quickest option of them all. At 35 mins crossing time it remains a favourite for all those who don’t have their sea legs. The facilities at the terminals are great with food drink and excellent shopping but the facilities on the journey across are very minimal. Withseveral crossings each hour it’s an easy and flexible way to cross.
Things to remember…
You can use the website www viamichelin.com to see what tolls and mileage your journey may incur. Although a longer ferry crossing is more expensive after fuel and tolls are taken into account the difference may not be as much as it first seems.
Where do you live?
This has a huge impact on the crossing you choose – not much point in going Dover to Calais if you live in the west country and are crossing into Brittany!
Just because your ferry gets in early does not mean you can arrive earlier at the venue!
Often the venues have an earliest arrival time so if you cross overnight you may find yourselves having a few hours to kill – not too difficult a problem though is it?
The Dover to Calais routes are very flexible;
Often if you arrive early at a port and ask they will put you on an earlier ferry
If in doubt as to which would be the best option for you… just ask! We have a wealth of experience and are always happy to advise what might suit you best.