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Thoughts on tunnel vs ferry, snowHeads ski forum
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Thoughts on tunnel vs ferry

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Last Thursday I took the ferry for the first time (on my own & no dogs) in a very long while, managing to lose myself in the massive new ferry terminal at Calais Laughing

I went with priority boarding as well as Club Lounge, that first excursion prepped me for my return only four days later and I had more of a strategy as to how best to make the most of it over the tunnel.

Apart from being somewhat cheaper though, and it does depend on what you are prepared to pay for, and if money is no object then its hard to beat what the tunnel Flexiplus can offer, however, I found the 90mins on board in the Club lounge, totally relaxed and refreshed me for the nine-hour drive ahead of me, especially after having woken at 04:30 for the usual sub 2hr drive to Folkestone.

Checkin at Dover P&O was a breeze (though was early and very quiet) and I could see no specific pet centre check-in, unlike EuroTunnel which is rapidly becoming a headache, maybe someone who has travelled recently with dogs could confirm that, please? As I presume you just show your paperwork when you check-in like I once did before?

Prior to booking the ferry I did check the forecast, especially so soon after Eunice and Franklin.

At the time of booking, Calais Folkestone / Folkestone Calais with priority booking and club lounge both ways, it was some £100 less than the tunnel.

The choice does very much depend on your travelling strategy as many I know choose to cross later in the day and stop en-route.

Anyway I've dumped all my thoughts and more down here in the blog


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 2-03-22 15:26; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I always think if taking the Ferry it adds at least an hour and half to your journey compared to tunnel if travelling from Ashford direction.
However, it does offer the opportunity for a better break and a meal.
Sorry no experience re pets.
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I've never been impressed with the "break" on a ferry - would prefer to have that 1.5 hours to use for a break where, and when, I want it. We used to use the ferry from Portsmouth, which is ten minutes drive from home (and free with Tesco vouchers for a long time) but once those western channel routes were closed, it was Eurotunnel all the way. I've rarely had any delay at Eurotunnel, but was fortunate not to have to travel at peak times.
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@Weathercam, Last two times we've travelled Folkestone - Calais Eurotunnel (early Nov & Saturday 15th Jan around 18:00) the place was deserted and pet reception just took a couple of minutes. Think it was something like 45 mins from check-in - pet reception - border controls x 2 - in queue for train.

I think that the trick is to avoid peak times, peak days (i.e. half term) and in particular peak times on peak days!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@pam w, but did you do the Club Lounge?

That's what makes a massive difference!

All food and drink is included, though shame if you're the nominated driver Laughing


http://youtube.com/v/-QQUuvFeq-4
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Personally I like the window of the flexible ticket for the ferry, which is a cheaper extra than the Tunnel. It just makes everything a lot less stressful on the journey out and particularly the journey back. Fancy an extra coffee at Paul’s on the way back? Get stuck for an hour by a landslide on the D54? No problem…and in the future….can’t find a working charge point or stocked hydrogen station? …. The Future……
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I'm doing the ferry on Friday for the first time in a long time, primarily for cost saving of £80, if there were four of us, each paying a share to save £20 each for an extra 1.5 hrs x4 then the tunnel is much better value.

I never get a rest on the ferry, much more comfortable stretched across the seats in my van, just as I can never get a sleep on Eurostar, just cant sleep sat up rolling eyes

The last time I came back to England on the tunnel, I had some guy banging on the window to wake me up, the whole train was empty in front of me & about 10 impatient drivers behind me Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
It's not really a case of always doing one or the other, we always took the ferry as the crossing & insurance package was much cheaper but after a few stormy crossing delays and the tunnel costs coming down, as well as tesco points, we switched to always doing the tunnel. It's always worth checking the deals & circumstances for each trip.
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I don't particularly like driving all the way from Scotland but when we have I've always found the ferry a useful break but never tried the tunnel driving.
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We tend to like the tunnel going outwards as it gets us on the road a bit sooner, we are doing it tomorrow. But quite like returning on the ferry which we did about four weeks ago, get a break, something to eat etc. We do always go in the lounge. And as I reported after our last return P&O are bringing two ships into service that will have pet lounges so the animals don’t have to stay in the car.
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@Pamski, how are the dogs checked in nowadays when using the ferry please?
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We're regular ferry users and use DFDS Multi trip tickets because of cheapness and flexibility. Our last batch of 3 return tickets cost us £138 return for a fully flexible ticket including meals. There are some premium dates that they charge an extra £50 for but as we never travel premium dates it doesn't bother us.

During the crossing we get to have a meal break and I usually manage at least an hours sleep. The actual time difference in crossings of 55 minutes ends up being reduced over the whole journey as we take one less stop on the journey down.

As @Weathercam, says it all depends on your travelling strategy. Our strategy is built around getting around the M25 very early in the morning and getting the 6:00 am ferry normally enabling us enabling us to stop and shop in Cluses and be in Les Gets by 6:00 pm. We'll swap drivers for the stretch between Reims and Bourg-en-Bresse.
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Weathercam wrote:
@pam w, but did you do the Club Lounge?

That's what makes a massive difference!

All food and drink is included, though shame if you're the nominated driver Laughing


as it happens we're looking at these options so it's a handy post.

But, we have mixed experience with things like 'club lounges' if they're a paid extra they are sometimes full of people who've paid £20 extra so therefore want to drink a least £20 worth of alcohol, so not the greatest experience. Was this a bit more chilled than that ?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I used to use DFDS from Calais to Dunkerque an awful lot when we lived in Belgium. Their multitrip tickets are excellent value.

The extra journey time on the ferry was made up for by (usually) quieter boats and being dropped off 45km up the coast closer to my destination. I usually got a decent hour long nap in as well.
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@Weathercam, sorry I can’t report on pet check in on the ferry. The last time we travelled with Coco was February 2020 coming home. I took the decision that without pet passports for now and with all the testing and paperwork required for us, let alone her, having to get her seen each time before coming back to UK, that she could spend this winter having her own breaks with her adored dog sitter. It has been a bit of an arm and a leg at £20 a night… but hey, whoever said skiing was a cheap pastime!

@richb67, when we used the lounge on 6th February it was extremely chilled and quiet, just us and one other couple sitting on the far side. I have never seen people drinking to excess in there but maybe we travel at quiet times. What has changed is that it used to be around £10 and then a glass of free Champagne, nuts/nibbles, as much coffee etc as desired, and then the opportunity to buy either breakfast type dishes or later in the day open sandwiches etc, and free newspapers to read. Always has been free wifi.
Now the lounge is £20 but there will be more food included. But the day we travelled there were things like chicken casserole. I reckoned they were bringing those things up from the dining room that the truckers use.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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We used the Newhaven - Dieppe ferry once. It took forever - and Newhaven took a lot of reaching, to start with. I haven't been on a car ferry for years now - crossed the channel twice a year for some time before Covid, but in a yacht. I'm booking car ferry to and from Ireland in May - read about the special lounge and decided to give it a miss. The reviews of the "free food" were meh. To me a car ferry, or the tunnel, are just a way to get from A to B. The quicker the better. All my eurotunnel trips have been heavily subsidised by Tesco.

I trust that alongside the pets lounge there would be a "no pets" lounge.....
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I used P and O from Dover today, check in and formalities were a breeze, unfortunately I got pulled for the 'Port Security' but was still able to join an earlier ferry, which had about 50 cars and lots of trucks on board. I have to buy a flex ticket (+- 4 hours as coming from the frozen North it could take 5 hours, it could take 8. Its now a £30 premium with P and O, which grates a bit. My usual strategy to escape the hordes was a meal in the Brasserie which they have done away with, but the Club Lounge was available for £15, even though as a driver I stuck to apple juice. There was 5 of us in there. Yeah, the foods not gourmet but as good as the stuff in the Chav Caf.
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@Weathercam, any reason why you go past Newhaven (as it's so close for you) for the DFDS ferry to Dieppe?? We've always found it to be a great service.
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@Weathercam, they normally just scan the chip at the check-in desk as far as I can remember. We've not used a ferry for a long time as the dog gets sick.
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@Weathercam, thanks for the post have read the blog too, I have been thinking of switching back to the ferry and it’s convinced me do it on our next trip.

Is travelling out Friday, back on a Monday considered off peak ?
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radar wrote:
@Weathercam, thanks for the post have read the blog too, I have been thinking of switching back to the ferry and it’s convinced me do it on our next trip.

Is travelling out Friday, back on a Monday considered off peak ?

Throughout the year travelling back on Mondays is mostly off peak except for Bank Holidays. Travelling out, Fridays are mostly off peak apart from the obvious school holidays.
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We haven't done the tunnel for 15 years; occasionally it was Hoverspeed, otherwise always P&O.
The hardest part of pet check in for P&O (either way!) is trying to find the chip between the shoulder blades. Before pulling up at the check in desk I always put the hazards on because of the extra paperwork - it's only a few minutes but if I can prevent someone getting stressed whilst we are being checked in, so much the better.
I think P&O have a fluid pricing model - the greater the expected demand or sales already made, the higher the price.
We used to use Club Lounge when it was drinks and nibbles plus pay for food but haven't tried the new scheme (because there was no Club Lounge during Covid).
We find the ferry a more comfortable crossing - yes, it is slower but we prefer being able to wander about, sit in a more comfortable seat than the car, have something to eat without dropping it onto my lap!
@pam w, on P&O pets stay in the car; I am sure that assistance dogs are allowed in the passenger spaces (but I don't recall seeing any). Cars with pets of any sort are often parked to one side in the garage space to reduce stress levels and the garage crew members always (even in winter) remind me to leave the windows a bit open. P&O had a lot of bad press a few years ago when someone’s dog died during a crossing (as if it was P&O's fault).

Edit: Only once in thirty years have I not been able to check in for an earlier ferry - it was Good Friday and about 4 o'clock in the morning!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Dan, yes Newhaven is only 40mins drive from Worthing, however there are not too many advantages to it, as I mentioned in the blog, sailing times don't often work, I checked before I wrote the article and they were at 09:30 arrive 14:30 and 23:00 arrive at 04:00 plus 5hr* sailing and then there's only 100km saving on the drive down, and not too much saving in drive time either.

Calais / Briançon 9hr 49 978km
Dieppe / Briançon 9hr 26 872km

We used to use it a fair bit, even day trips when Condor had their Catamaran the journey was only 90mins. And then the service was suspended for a long while.

And @richb67, as a few have mentioned the Club lounge was extremely chilled.

And like I said in the blog, I had various breakfast rolls, smoothies and a couple of cappuccinos and then took some with me for the trip!

Going by the responses in this thread and speaking to friends, many choose the tunnel for one way out and the ferry the other.

The Local.fr did a survey and they reported.

And it seems that convenience won out for readers of The Local. On Facebook the tunnel polled 59 percent of the votes.

And over on Twitter the victory was more decisive, with the tunnel taking 66 percent of the vote


And just another point, as I was travelling on my own and am of a certain Vintage I downloaded four (2hrs) Johnie Walker sounds of the 70's podcasts and they were great for the trip.

*if you include the additional hour for French time


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Thu 3-03-22 9:57; edited 1 time in total
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I have used Newhaven/Dieppe and the only downside is the limited number of crossings, 2 a day in winter. It's a 4 (not 5) hour crossing with one in the morning to France at a time between 0930 and 1145, and a night crossing at 2300. I tend to travel on Friday AM and back on Sunday evening with an overnight stop each way to the Alps and a leisurely drive. It's slightly cheaper than the Dover crossings and I avoid driving round the M25 car park. Check-in and border controls both ways has always been relaxed (but not been since Brexit).

It is probably only worth it for France and if you have a reasonable drive to Newhaven. I'm using it again at the end of March so will update.
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Not very happy with the tunnel this morning. We arrived just after 0730 this morning for our 0920 train hoping to be popped onto an earlier one but now not going till 10.20. 0820 was cancelled due to customer’s car breaking down, so I read.
Would have been a lovely morning on a ferry!
Abd we don’t consider the Newhaven crossing due to timing of sailings.
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@tarrantd, 5hrs was including the extra hour for French time Toofy Grin

@Pamski, sorry to hear that Sad

It really is down to your own personal choice, no doubt we'll do the ferry until we have a bad experience and then switch back to the tunnel, though I might just try Portsmouth Le Havre on a mid weeker again but only short-term.

The whole reason I did a "flying" trip back to the UK was to get my kitesurfing gear and summer tyres as the original plan was to go to Spain via Portsmouth Santander/Bilbao but all the dog cabins were booked up Crying or Very sad
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@Weathercam, thanks for the reply Eh oh! yes the times for the winter season don't quite work when we've just looked and there were no cabins left so no chance of any sleep before a long drive. Like you we're in a campervan (T5) so the tunnel and driving as far as we want before pitching up on the side of the road for dinner and zzzzz before continuing to the resort before the next day makes more sense this time Eh oh!
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I used to use the ferry a lot but recently used the tunnel almost exclusively. This started when our son was young and we didn't have to wake him when using the tunnel (he'd sleep all the way from Birmingham to Albertville) rather than wake him and get the sleepy child up the stairs on the boat. It is also easier for the driver to grab 40 winks using the tunnel than the ferry.

This may come as a suprise but foot passengers are not allowed on the tunnel so our last trip across by ferry was purely as a foot passenger (long story). A sureal experience nowadays. I recall once upon a time when there were ferries that carried foot passengers only.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@johnE, and the cars were craned onto another ship!
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@johnE, and the one thing you'll see on the Newhaven ferry, in the warmer months, are many push-bikes as Dieppe/Normandy is a lot more conducive to cycling in France than the Pas de Calais region and access roads are a tad quieter Laughing

@johnE, and yes, travelling with kids also can invoke a different travelling strategy, I used to drive through the night with the twins asleep in the back, think back then was when we used Newhaven more, but that might have been when the fast Condor catamaran was in service too?
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 Poster: A snowHead
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We've tended to use the tunnel more than ferry but I am not beholden to one or the other.

Personally I don't get much joy from the break/food/whatever on the ferry so it comes down to cost v convenience. Generally found the tunnel flexible (without paying for flexi ticket) and the frequency of service, especially late/early in the day means there are no concerns.

Always good to discuss and bounce thoughts though.

Just to note when I was looking at Easter tunnel prices seem to have crept up again.
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just looked at a ferry for a tunnel trip i've just booked. takes an hour longer and is only saving about £35.
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Tend to use what suits and/or is cheapest.

In peak times, I prefer Tunnel as you can just sit in car and your interactions with others are limited. If we have caravan then pop in there and have a lie down! A ferry packed with screaming kids is not my idea of fun.

But have enjoyed a break and meal on ferry from time to time as well.
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Ferry takes longer but it also takes longer to get to Dover (unless you live nearer Dover). The ferry meal option has an attraction as, if you're pushing to get to the tunnel late evening, you've no meal options once in France (after 10pm say). So we have normally taken something to eat in the tunnel while we're watching a video.
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@holidayloverxx, maybe van's are charged more, which is maybe the case on Eurotunnel as opposed to cars?

I've just looked at bookings dept Sat March 12th 07:30 and rtn Sat March 19th 17:30 for a van and no extras and tunnel £408 vs ferry, again no extras, £295.

If you then add Priority booking and Club Class for two then ferry is £413.

But as has been proved on here many people have their own travelling strategy, leaving later in the day, and stopping overnight, travelling with young kids, travelling with dogs, others will go for the cheapest, others will go out tunnel/ferry and come back on the other.

For my part I was most impressed with the Club lounge and really think that was worth the extra, but hey one bad experience and Ill be back on the tunnel.

Would not be surprised if @LaForet, has compiled a whole spreadsheet on the Pros and Cons in minute detail Laughing
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One advantage of leaving from Newhaven is it makes France seems even better once you get there.
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@Weathercam, what is priority booking or did you mean boarding? Not sure we would bother with the latter, as usually plenty of space in the lounge, but now they have abandoned the proper restaurant/Langan’s or whatever it was recently known as, maybe the lounges will get busier. They are generally free of feral children….
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@Pamski, yes you're right, Priority Boarding.

That was the frustration for me, instilled over many years from when I was a little kid when using a ferry how long the boarding & disembarking was, hence the joy of using the tunnel initially, and Priority Boarding takes that frustration to some extent away.

And yes the Club Lounge is free of the feral element, though I do remember taking the ferry at the height of the booze trips when they travelled on coaches to Calais and then roamed the ferry taking up all the seats having paid One Pound via the Sun Newspaper for their trip rolling eyes
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tangowaggon wrote:
I'm doing the ferry on Friday for the first time in a long time, primarily for cost saving of £80, if there were four of us, each paying a share to save £20 each for an extra 1.5 hrs x4 then the tunnel is much better value.

I never get a rest on the ferry, much more comfortable stretched across the seats in my van, just as I can never get a sleep on Eurostar, just cant sleep sat up rolling eyes

The last time I came back to England on the tunnel, I had some guy banging on the window to wake me up, the whole train was empty in front of me & about 10 impatient drivers behind me Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed


Not a blueish van is it?
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Priority Boarding (and disembarkation) was great value when customs and immigration was after disembarkation. Nowadays there's the treaty that permits these checks to be carried out before boarding so at Dover, Folkestone and Calais there isn't the bottleneck that there used to be (and there still is on the Portsmouth/Poole routes) so "priority" isn't so important. On Dover-Calais some of the older P&O boats have (had?) a small lounge just outside Club where it was quiet - that's the quiet corner Border Force would be found whilst "commuting".
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