Cheap Channel Crossings - Citroënian {P}
Hi all,

thinking of booking a week over in the continent, taking a short driving holiday so taking the car.

What's the cheapest way to get from Blighty to Euroland? I really like the tunnel, don't know much about deals on ferries but am very flexible if it'll save me £££s

And what about booking two single journeys at special day rates rather than being fleeced for a week long booking? What are the pitfalls of this?

Thanks

Lee -- Without bills, magazines and junk mail, there is no mail
Cheap Channel Crossings - greenhey
Cheapest seems to be Speedferries- tho there can be a draback as they are (a) very light on back-up if a boat goes out of service and (b) the target of dirty tricks from PO and SF and their workers.
Taking 2 day trips isn't worth trying. If you take on outbound they log you didn't return same day and when you turn up in that vehicle to go home will reject your ticket , which is supposed to only be valid starting at Dover. Then you pay the full single, which is prob more than an advance return
Cheap Channel Crossings - Citroënian {P}
Thanks to everyone that mentioned Speedferries, had a look and they're exactly what I need - found the dates, think I'll book through them. Much cheaper than the chunnel or other ferries - don't really care about comfort on board - so long as I can get the car and me over without getting wet, that'll do me fine!!

Second question
Does anyone know of a decent/cheap (I know, cheap things aren't always good!) European breakdown cover service? I'm with the AA, but you've found me an excellent deal on ferries so hopefully there's a decent breakdown service I don't yet know about! Thanks
Lee -- You don\'t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle
Cheap Channel Crossings - steve.m
The answer to your second question is here:

Quote from www.moneysavingexpert.com
www.moneysavingexpert.com/cgi-bin/viewnews.cgi?new...6,

Cheapest European Cover

Phone and web broker Quotelinedirect has an exclusive deal with Europ Assistance for a £59 annual ?AutoService? policy covering any individual vehicle (less than 20 years old) for a year.
www.quotelinedirect.co.uk/?INQQ

This includes home-start, and onward travel for passengers plus up to 90 days a year cover in Europe. However, those not going to Europe regularly should stick with a UK-only policy and take out separate cover if needed for a single trip.



Cheap Channel Crossings - Bromptonaut
I don't think there's an easy answer to this. IMO there's always a premium for the tunnel and personally I'd rather not travel with other cars in close proximity so go for the ferry.

At present ferry fares are at a historic low due to competition from Speedferries etc. Avoiding peak crossings (Fri eve/Sat morn) it should be possible to get a return that would have been £200+ in 2001 for well under £100. I'd try Seafrance first as you feel you're in France as soon as you board.

Norfolkline's no frills service is also excellent though using Dunkerque rather than Calais adds a few minutes to both the crossing and the transit times in France.
Cheap Channel Crossings - tack
I agree about Norfolk Line. There seems to be something a bit more personal about them than P&O etc. I mean, if you are after a vast shopping mall on board, forget it. It's a bloke behind the counter serving you (a bit like Sainsbury used to be in the 50's and 60's) The restaurant is small....but there are no mulleted 5yr old mini-me's running about. To my mind, the extra few miles from DunQ is worth it.
Cheap Channel Crossings - markengland
Have never tried Norfolk Line so can't comment. I've used Eurotunnel, P&O and SeaFrance several times and have to say out of the 3, I would always choose Tunnel first then Sea France. However, the tunnel will almost always be more expensive than the other 2 (despite still losing millions each year). If I have to go by boat, which I prefer not to as it takes too long and I get bored very quickly on there, then I would choose Sea France. They certainly have a more French feel on board, have newer vessels and never seem as crowded as the P&O tubs. I work for a coach company who always use P&O over SeaFrance, mainly because of a more regular crossing timetable, but on a personal level they would generally be my last choice.
Cheap Channel Crossings - smokie
I used most of them last year (except the over-priced tunnel, but have used it before).

Norfolk were cheap to take the caravan across. The food is good and cheap but I don't go on ferries to eat. The return was a bit of a nightmare, as Dunquerke is really badly signposted, and when we arrived there was a non-moving queue of lorries, and no-one to tell me that I should drive along the opposite carriageway as they were simply queueing for "next available". Although it was quite enjoyable, the crossing is a long time and you end up in Dunkirk.

P&O and SF are much of a muchness. Huge boats, lots of "facilities" and lots of families with uncontrolled kids. Having said that, they are relatively quick and painless.

My favourite (until I get a bad experience) is Speedferries. Check in time is shorter than the ferries, and the crossing is quick too. No luxury on the boat, but hey, they are cheap, right? I know people that suffered last year when the boat was out of service due to an engine problem. No alternative to a 4 hour delay... I have bought 10 crossing pack from them for £190 - which reminds me - I must book for my May trip!
Cheap Channel Crossings - Roly93
Have never tried Norfolk Line so can't comment. I've used Eurotunnel,
P&O and SeaFrance several times and have to say out of
the 3, I would always choose Tunnel first then Sea France.
However, the tunnel will almost always be more expensive than the
other 2 (despite still losing millions each year). If I have
to go by boat, which I prefer not to as it
takes too long and I get bored very quickly on there,
then I would choose Sea France. They certainly have a more
French feel on board, have newer vessels and never seem as
crowded as the P&O tubs. I work for a coach company
who always use P&O over SeaFrance, mainly because of a more
regular crossing timetable, but on a personal level they would generally
be my last choice.

Pretty much my sentiments, I think the Chunnel is a brilliant service albeit pricier than the ferries. I personally hate being crowded onto a floating motorway service station which is certainly what the P&O boats are like.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Chad.R
....and personally I'd rather not travel with other cars
in close proximity so go for the ferry.


I'm not sure I understand that comment - Yes, the chunnel trains are packed full of cars but at least they are in single file on 2 decks, whereas on a ferry they are simply "packed". Whichever way you choose to take your car across the channel, you'll be in close proximity to other cars.

I only used the ferry a few times and when the seas are rough then it's a rough crossing for all - especially if you get sea-sick!

The last few years I've always used the tunnel and never had any problems - the latest trip was last month when I booked a return for just under £100 - though my cost was only £25 quids worth of Tesco clubcard vouchers.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Bromptonaut
>> ....and personally I'd rather not travel with other cars
>> in close proximity so go for the ferry.
>>
I'm not sure I understand that comment - Yes, the chunnel
trains are packed full of cars but at least they are
in single file on 2 decks, whereas on a ferry they
are simply "packed".


Was not as lear as I could have been, meant I'd rather travel seperately from the car.
Cheap Channel Crossings - hypocrite
If you shop at Tescos look at their deal offers. Not good for short notice trips but in the offer I took up you can redeem £10 of clubcard vouchers for £40 of Eurotunnel tickets. If you are a regular shopper and save up a few clubcard vouchers it makes peak summer fares a lot less painful which is what we are using this year.

I think they also do ferry tickets.

Simon
Cheap Channel Crossings - Truckosaurus
Also check www.directferries.com as I managed to book a crossing this week for less than if I'd used Norfolk Lines own website. www.ferrysavers.com is another similar site.
Cheap Channel Crossings - PR {P}
I have just booked a week away in July, going out on Speedferries for £39 and coming back on Eurotunnel for £55. Not bad I didnt think.

As for question 2 on breakdown cover, the last time I got it (my current Alfa has 3 yrs AA inc European) I bought it from Eurotunnel even though I didnt cross with them, they were the cheapest at the time, worth a try.
Cheap Channel Crossings - mike hannon
Do the reasonable prices quoted above and the mention of fares being at an 'historic low' relate only to Dover crossings and the tunnel? I ask because my experience - my expat friends also - of fares on the western channel, ie via Brittany Ferries after the demise of P and O on the Portsmouth-Le Havre route, is that prices have have rocketed.
Lots of people from my part of south western France now seem to be putting up with the extra driving and using Speedferries. Am I right in thinking they still use hovercraft? I only ask because it used to be said that hovercraft can damage car suspension, even on a short trip.
Cheap Channel Crossings - PR {P}
The western channel routes are indeed expensive. I am actually going from near Portsmouth to the Loire, but going via Dover. The price I got for the Portsmouth crossing was £260 single, so the extra 200 miles or so isn't going to cost the £221 saving!!

Speedferries uses a catamaran, no one uses hovercrafts across the channel anymore.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Statistical outlier
Just a word of warning to anyone that gets seasick. The catamarans are absolutely horrendous in anything other than calm seas. I had one of the most miserable hours of my life coming back Calais - Dover a couple of years ago on a hoverspeed cat. I was feeling hugely sick the whole way, and everytime it crashed through a wave, another buckets worth of icy seawater was thrown over me.

Horrible time, and it absolutely ruined the suit I was wearing. Oh if I had only thought to take some motion-sickness pills beforehand. I've now told work that I'll swim if necessary, but I'm not going on a cat again!

G
Cheap Channel Crossings - Robbie
The western channel routes are indeed expensive. I am actually going
from near Portsmouth to the Loire, but going via Dover. The
price I got for the Portsmouth crossing was £260 single, so
the extra 200 miles or so isn't going to cost the
£221 saving!!


You should try LD LInes. I'm travelling to Le Havre on Sunday and it has cost me £197.00 return - £30 is for my dog - with a cabin out and Club Class return. Far cheaper than Brittany Ferries who wanted over £400 to Caen, and that included the discount for their Property Owner's Club.
Cheap Channel Crossings - PR {P}
Cheers for that Robbie. Very reasonable, but I've booked now, plus not that convinient for this trip but worth bearing in mind for future crossings.
Cheap Channel Crossings - pmh
Norfolk Line have a special promo on now, just got the Email.

I have started to use them since PO hiked the charges, despite the longer crossing time, the unloading has been quicker so the actual time penalty is small. The worse bit is that the boat frequency is about every 2 hrs. (I just turn up and go, combined with a much later back up booking if it is a busy time).

Food is good value, if not as sophisticated as Langhams restaurant.

Absence of kids is a big plus.
--

pmh (was peter)


Cheap Channel Crossings - mike hannon
Yes, thanks Robbie, I'll keep them in mind too.
Have to agree about the peculiar motion of the cats. I used to be a regular - for convenience - on Condor services to the Channel Islands and St Malo and never really got used to it, even when the sea was fairly flat.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Xileno {P}
Forget west country routes - a complete rip off IMHO. I stumped up the thick end of five hundred pounds last year for a return night boat with one of the operators. Never again.

We go Dover using Sea France, cheap at £100 return, reliable, clean, pleasant staff. Nice french feel as well, lovely coffee and pain au chocolate to get the mood going for about 3 euros IIRC. The crossing is about 1 hour 15 mins, just about right to have a bit of a rest before motoring on.

Exiting the port at Dover on return the worst bit. But then you can pretty much take it for granted that you will get held up somewhere now, in this country at least.

Cheap Channel Crossings - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
Just booked a return for car & us in August with SF and was pleasantly surprised that cost was 'only' £115 - a big drop from previous years. The fun is now getting personal and vehicular travel insurance, which will probably be another £180 or so combined.
A pre-existing medical condition makes it difficult to even get a quote.
--
I wasna fu but just had plenty.
Cheap Channel Crossings - terryb
I've just done a trip with LD Lines and it was the most horrific experience I've had on a ferry. Cars were packed in so tight a number were reporting damage, no decent restaurant, most of the staff are Eastern European with scant English; what would happen in an emergency I shudder to think. Also, the boat is the ex- Dover/Calais Aquitaine, which is totally unsuitable IMHO for a 5-hour plus overnight crossing. Only about 60 cabins available in all, so Robbie was very lucky to get one - but he'll be turned out of it 1 hour before docking in Le Havre.

My advice would be not to use them - others may have had better experiences (but unlikely as I understand a report in the Mail has panned them too).

Terry
--
Terry
Cheap Channel Crossings - Robbie
I returned from France on Sunday afternoon with LD Lines and I was pleasantly surprised. The cabin on the outward journey was very comfortable and I slept well. The boat was clean and loading was fine. Having Charley with me we were loaded one of the first and right at the front with plenty of room. I had dinner but was not impressed with the underdone cauliflower in sauce. Breakfast was excellent and you could help yourself to as much as you wanted: eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, tomato. The bacon was very good, and not fatty.

The return from Le Havre went well, but I shall be writing to complain about lack of care for loading the car with a pet on board. There is a charge of £30 for a pet and it has to remain in the car for the whole journey. The loaders couldn't have cared less, unlike at Portsmouth, and we were placed in the middle of rows of cars so it was impossible for a check to be made without examining every vehicle. The Information Desk said they did not check pets, unlike P&O who stated in their blurb that staff checked animals during the voyage. Six hours or so is a long time for a dog to be left unattended in a car.

I shall travel with LD Lines again if I receive a satisfactory reply to my complaint.

Cheap Channel Crossings - Robbie
This is a follow up to my last post.

I wrote to LD lines - via e.mail - and had a reply, within an hour, expressing concern and saying Le Havre would be contacted. I have just received a reply from Le Havre apologising and saying that they are improving their service for pet travel and offering me a free crossing for two and Charley.

Excellent result and I can't praise them too highly for the way in which they handled my complaint.
Cheap Channel Crossings - fluter
Things often go wrong, but how a company responds to complaints is often a good indicator. Hope the free trip goes well, and we'll all benefit from the competition.

As an EFL teacher I'll bear in mind that there is a market in teaching English to their Eastern European staff when I return to the south coast from living abroad.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Nsar
I'd have thought HM Customs would get a bit tense about you bringing Charley into the country
Cheap Channel Crossings - Robbie
I'd have thought HM Customs would get a bit tense about
you bringing Charley into the country


Have I missed something here?
Cheap Channel Crossings - adverse camber
charlie has a meaning in slang.

try googling for charlie drugs
Cheap Channel Crossings - Robbie
charlie has a meaning in slang.
try googling for charlie drugs


I must have led a very sheltered life);
Cheap Channel Crossings - Robbie
most of the staff are Eastern European with scant English;
what would happen in an emergency I shudder to think. Also,
the boat is the ex- Dover/Calais Aquitaine, which is totally unsuitable
IMHO for a 5-hour plus overnight crossing. Only about 60 cabins
available in all, so Robbie was very lucky to get one
- but he'll be turned out of it 1 hour before
docking in Le Havre.


The staff are Poruguese, not East Europeans. Although I suppose the Portuguese language is easily mistaken for such.

I wouldn't take your advice about not using LD Lines. Have you ever travelled with Brittany Ferries? It's nigh on impossible to get out of your car as they are packed so tightly. BF don't respond to complaints, in my experience..
Cheap Channel Crossings - horatio
You can't book sigle day fares because if you fail to turn up for your return trip your credit card will be charged the maximum standard one way fare.

Anyone going West of Paris, Brittany, Bordeaux etc Have a gander at Condor Ferries, extremely cheap compared to Brittany Ferries. and a lot faster too.
Cheap Channel Crossings - artful dodger {P}
Special offer in the Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph,. P&O £35.00 each way for a car and passengers.

Advert by SeaFrance for selected times in August and September and prepayment in July £19.00 each way for a car and passengers, but conditions apply.

Hope this helps someone.


--
Roger
I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
Cheap Channel Crossings - wotspur
try ebay - go to vouchers there are frequently tickets advertised that might suit your requirements
Cheap Channel Crossings - Citroënian {P}
Well, we took Norfolk Lines in the end and were very impressed. Booked at almost the last minute but still managed a £49 (£59 with "fuel surcharge") return over the weekend.

Nice boats, looked to be new. Excellent, reasonably priced food and drinks and altogether a good experience. Would definitely use them again. The markings on the floor of the ship mean you can't park too close to other cars, so crowding shouldn't be a problem down there.

Only slight thing I'd mention is the port isn't easy to find on the way back. Not signposted so we ended up going through Dunkerque itself and taking probably an extra half hour. The loading there was a bit chaotic too.

Good stuff though, would recommend them. Took the AA breakdown cover for ~£20 - didn't need it so not sure how good it was!

The Chunnel is much faster, better located and convenient, but there's still a lot to be said for stading on the deck being blown sideways as you chug over the channel!!

Thanks for all the advice, it really helped out.

Lee -- There\'s no place like 127.0.0.1
Cheap Channel Crossings - Xileno {P}
Norfolk Lines are indeed very good. I generally use Sea France though as my journey is long enough without adding about 30 miles more from Dunkerque to Calais.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Citroënian {P}
Wasn't thinking about it too much when I booked it, but it worked out OK for us as we were heading down the A25. But if I did northern France often, the extra drive into Dover, waiting around for the ferries and the extra crossing time would mean I'd end up choosing the Chunnel everytime. But we do it so irregularly, it's worth the extra adventure for us!

Lee -- You know, it\'s not like changing toothpaste
Cheap Channel Crossings - Xileno {P}
I shall be using LDlines on the 15th September for a quick break to France. As a seasoned P&O and SeaFrance traveller, it will be interesting to see how it compares. Certainly the prices are very attractive.
I will report back with an honest opinion of the service.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Xileno {P}
Well it was a mixed bag to be honest. The loading up Portsmouth and unloading at Le Havre was quick and efficient. There were ample staff on board who were polite and helpful. The crossing was calm and despite the ferry leaving Portsmouth about 30 mins late, it made the time up.

I did not sample any food or drink, I know the quality of the catering has been criticised but I don't take the ferry to eat on it so I'm not bothered.

The biggest problem (and the sole reason why I won't be using LDlines again) is the lack of comfort for an overnight crossing. If you are extremely lucky and can get one of the very small number of cabins, then matters may well be different. We paid extra for the Club Class seats and quite honestly they are not suitable. The seats recline a bit bit legroom is limited. It is about the same as being on a plane. I was next to the wall and couldn't get out without climbing over the person next to me.

It's a shame because the company seems efficient and the staff helpful. But in my opinion the accommodation is not good enough for an overnight crossing. It would probably be fine for the day return though.
Cheap Channel Crossings - R75
Thanks for the update, I was looking at using that crossing but had reservations about the lack of cabins - after your comments I think I will fly from Southampton instead, same cost but saves time and I can hire a car the other end.
Cheap Channel Crossings - MisterH
Ditto.
Looks like it will have to be flying. Am I right in thinking LD only have a 23.15 sailing per day ??
Cheap Channel Crossings - Xileno {P}
Yes, one crossing each way per day. Night boat from Portsmouth and late afternoon from Le Havre.
Cheap Channel Crossings - aahbarnes
Interesting history of the ship:

www.ferry-site.dk/ferry.php?id=8908466&lang=en
Cheap Channel Crossings - local yokel
But LD are cheap. I'm fetching a caravan from NW France - to sell BTW, not keep. Brittany wanted £250 for a single from Cherbourg, LD £85 from LH.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Xileno {P}
Indeed, that is their main attraction. No champagne for beer money though, you get what you pay for.
I would consider LDlines again but only for the return day crossing from LH. Any night crossing will be with Brittany Ferries or I might go Dover and just put up with the longer drive.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Harmattan
Another word or two of support for Norfolk Line which we used for the first time two weeks ago, partly on the strength of comments here. As stated by others, the formalities went smoothly, the staff were very pleasant (compared particularly with the Chunnel a week earlier) and the ship clean. On-board prices for food were a bit steep, and the lack of customers on the return journey meant one of the coffee shops closed early. As the steward was telling my wife this and that he had already cleaned up the coffee machine, the captain and first officer walked past, overhead the conversation and told the steward to get the machine going again. The only minor and largely psychological issue is the extra 10-15 minutes over the Chunnel getting to the docks in Dover in daytime but I just told myself I was saving around £100 over the same times on the Chunnel. We all had to go into town before the Chunnel anyway.
Cheap Channel Crossings - FP
We used NL very recently and were very satisfied. The ship ("Maersk", both ways) was modern and well designed and checking in and loading were smooth. The ship was very comfortable. However, I wouldn't say things were all that clean - certainly the carpets and upholstery didn't look as if they had been vacuumed for some time.

Landing at Dunkerque was helpful to us on this occasion particularly, as it shortens the journey eastwards and we were headed to Strasbourg and ultimately the Italian Lakes.

The only real problem, which is not NL's responsibility, is the very poor signing when returning to the ferry via Lille - when the dual carriageway runs out there are various signs to different parts of Dunkerque and absolutely no mention of the car ferry, which we remembered is well north of the town. As it was dark and raining and we had no detailed map this was frustrating, to say the least. In the end we followed signs to "Les Ports" and eventually came upon "Car Ferry" signs.

I would use NL again, or Speed Ferries (which we were satisfied with a couple of years ago) for the short Channel crossing - never the other rip-off merchants.
Cheap Channel Crossings - Big John
I managed to book a £75 return ferry crossing for the end of July (early booking) with SeaFrance. I have used most operators (inc Eurotunnel) before and prefer SeaFrance when traveling from Dover (nice relaxing restaurant and better coffee). They along with the Camping and Caravanning Club were the best company to me (ferry or holiday operators) this year when I had to cancel a whole raft of holiday plans for the year due to ill health in the family, SeaFrance gave us an immediate and full refund!

Cheap Channel Crossings - local yokel
SeaFrance are certainly keen for business. Booked a day trip for the car, but returning with a shed-on-wheels (to sell, not keep..) and it's £47.50 all in.
 

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