Are you travelling from Calais to Dover, or in the opposite direction? Which is the best way to cross the Channel? Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of
So, I generally focus on money-saving, but I always like to share my (limited) knowledge when I get a chance. And I know that many people often wonder whether they should take a ferry or use Eurotunnel (also known as the Channel Tunnel) when
I have lived within 15 minutes of Dover Western Docks all my life. My dad worked at the Hoverport and I remember taking a very bumpy ride on a hovercraft across to France in the mid-’80s A few years later, I made my first ferry crossing with
In the early 2000s, work required me to travel a lot to France and Belgium. At the time, that meant I was travelling by ferry several times a week. At the end of the decade, this changed to the tunnel and I was making up to 5 return journeys every week!
Which is the cheapest – ferry or tunnel?
One of the first considerations anybody thinks about is the price you pay. Many years ago, P&O used to offer some very cheap deals for tickets – sometimes as low as £1. Unfortunately, cheap ferry tickets are quite rare now.
If you’re just
If you decide to book a ferry ticket, remember cashback sites. P&O and DFDS Seaways are both listed on TopCashback. That means you could save up to around 10% off the price of a ticket.
That’s not the only way to save money when crossing the Channel though.
If you have some Tesco Clubcard points, you can exchange these for 3 x their value when booking with P&O. And although Eurotunnel doesn’t appear on cashback sites, you can also book Channel Tunnel tickets through Tesco Clubcard.
Another way to check you are getting a good deal is to check prices on a comparison site first.
If everything goes to plan, a ferry crossing from Calais to Dover will take around 90 minutes (Dover to Dunkirk takes around 2 hours). The Channel Tunnel crossing takes 35 minutes. On top of this, it will take another 5-10 minutes for the ferry and train to offload. The beauty of travelling by the Tunnel though is that you never have to leave the car if you don’t want to.
This really depends on your preference. As I said, travelling by the Channel Tunnel means you never have to leave your car. This is nice for some, but if you have a long journey either side of the tunnel, it might be nice to be able to take a longer break from driving. One major downside to the Tunnel is if you are parked next to a toilet. On busy days, expect a queue of people standing next to your car as they wait to use the facilities. And most of them don’t care about staring into your car to see what you’re doing. There aren’t too many toilets onboard, but it’s still something you need to be aware of.
The ferries have shops and bar areas for you to relax and unwind in. Plus, it’s always nice to go and watch your journey out on the deck. Well, as long as the weather is nice. If the wind is blowing, you can expect a bumpy crossing. For many, this isn’t a problem, but I am still waiting for my sea legs.
Another issue for the ferry is during busy periods. During peak times, it can get pretty crowded onboard. That means you can struggle to get a seat and it gets very noisy with lots of school groups roaming around. P&O does offer a Club Lounge, which entitles you to free drinks and snacks. It is often quieter but can fill up quickly. Prices start from £12
I always assumed that because the ferries were susceptible to the weather, they wouldn’t be particularly reliable. However, it takes some fairly extreme weather before crossings are cancelled. On the other hand, I have seen far more delays when travelling by the Channel Tunnel. If one train should have issues once in the tunnel, it can bring the whole system to a grinding halt. Plus, the trains are all over 25 years old now, which means they have seen better days.
EuroTunnel or Ferry?
So who wins in my vote for the Calais to Dover crossing?
Personally, I will always opt for the Tunnel. Despite a few reliability issues, I’m more than happy to sit in my car for hours. Plus, I hate the idea that I might be seasick. And I always save up my Clubcard points so I can get a good deal.
Why not take a look at my post about other ways to save money when travelling to Europe?
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