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  #1  
Old 23 Apr 2008
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Dover ferry(ies) V Eurotunnel

Okay guys and dolls,

Which is best.. the train or the boat (from the UK)?

If the boat which one... (i did not realise that there is like 10 different ferries over the pond)

for any of the above:

Do you have to book in advance or can you just show up? ( I know it could be more exxy but like the "freedom" of no time schedule especially on the return trip)

yeah that is about it.. any other tips/hints suggestions would be great...

right now we are planning a crossing on a Saturday midday (in both directions).. not great but that is the best we can do...Mrs.X has to work.. Sat am... and we live in the midlands so it will be a blast south no-matter what what we use to cross the water..
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Last edited by Xander; 24 Apr 2008 at 16:35.
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  #2  
Old 23 Apr 2008
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Norfolk Line

I've always used norfolk line, good deals to be had and an open return date just show up. Last time I used them had booked outward at 2 0'clock but was stuck in a jam on the M25 - just phoned them and they put me on the next sailing, no problem.
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  #3  
Old 23 Apr 2008
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I like the tunnel - lots of trains if you miss one and no hanging aorund and tieing the bike down .
It is more expensive but it's faster and a lot more convenient.
I found that if you book a same day return for your outward journey and another same day return for your return journey and then don't use one leg of each - simply don't show up, it's a lot cheaper than booking a return directly
Eurotunnel don't like it so if you try this use 2 different credit cards to book each leg with - go through the automatic check in and you've saved yourself a tidy sum . I even go as far to book one leg in my name and the next in my wife's maiden name
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  #4  
Old 23 Apr 2008
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Some of my experiences may not be current!!

Yep, lots of options which has to be good for competition, and you have two different views already in the previous posts.

In general, if you book in advance/online you will get a better price than if you just bowl up - in doing the latter, you are "committing" yourself to that particular form of travel, come what may, and the travel firms know this. However, if you go to Dover, rather than the train terminal, there are a number of options, so you can shop around for a deal: all depends on if you want to dedicate time and effort to this type of thing - I have done a bit of "people watching" in the past when this way of getting a ticket was very common, including the option of taking a return ticket and ditching the return portion.
Very amusing to see.
Be careful about day return tickets: I think some operators don't sell them after certain times of day (I've ended up paying full price!!). Pay cash, it cannot be "traced": even credit cards have addresses related to them and the ferry companies keep records on their computers.

I have never used Norfolk Lines, but I have heard good reports about them: I think that they don't take coach parties, so you get away from the school trip syndrome - hordes of kids, running riot around the boat while the teachers disappear to the bar. A complete PITA at some times of year.

Look back in the posts in here and you will find info about Fastferries - they stopped taking bikes for a while but they are now making the effort to bring in our custom for their service out of Dover.

The train: good, fast, efficient - you don't feel as if you have really stopped, which can be a disadvantage if you are in need of a break. But, they do have good services at each end (none on the train), so there is no real reason why you can't stop "properly" - but, psychologically, you just want to press-on.
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  #5  
Old 23 Apr 2008
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Eurotunnel or Ferry?

Just for a quick comparison.......
Went over from Dover to Calais with P&O last November, booked about 6 months in advance and it cost £50 return (1 adult & 1 bike).
Just booked up with Eurotunnel for a trip in September and it cost £60 return (2 adults & 1 bike).
Hated the ferry! Ages to get on, crushed by crowds of people on the boat, the inevitable seasickness, £10 for a cup of terrible coffee, ages to get off.
The Euro tunnel is quick and easy, can't fault it. Roll up, get on the train, half hour over there then straight off onto the motorway.
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  #6  
Old 23 Apr 2008
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I use Portsmouth-Le Havre. Outward it's an overnight trip. I upgrade to Club class lounge and crash on the floor. Everyone does it, some even bring sleeping bags and pillows. You can even "hire" a blanket for 10 euro, refundable when you return it. You get into Le Havre at 0800 ready for a full days riding. The return is a bit of a nightmare though as you get back to Portsmouth at 21.30. From November they're putting another ferry on the route so you'll be able to overnight on the way back too. This will make it a good ferry for those up in the north. You'll have all day to get to Portsmouth, departs 23.00 and the return home will be a full day as the ferry will get in at 08.00. So, good for 2009.
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  #7  
Old 24 Apr 2008
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Speedferries has introduced the Hitchlugger product onboard their vessel. We used it last month with no problems and the ticket was only £30 return!
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  #8  
Old 24 Apr 2008
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Thumbs up It certainly pays to look at the sailing times carefully

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyingdoctor View Post
I use Portsmouth-Le Havre. Outward it's an overnight trip. I upgrade to Club class lounge and crash on the floor. Everyone does it, some even bring sleeping bags and pillows. You can even "hire" a blanket for 10 euro, refundable when you return it. You get into Le Havre at 0800 ready for a full days riding. The return is a bit of a nightmare though as you get back to Portsmouth at 21.30. From November they're putting another ferry on the route so you'll be able to overnight on the way back too. This will make it a good ferry for those up in the north. You'll have all day to get to Portsmouth, departs 23.00 and the return home will be a full day as the ferry will get in at 08.00. So, good for 2009.

I used that route a few years ago when it was run by P&O: it is now with a French ferry company I think.
The overnight service was a definite advantage - much more civilised, and when you cost out hotel charges there is not much difference in overall costs.
I too have tried riding very long days, either side of a ferry journey - not fun at all, especially when your pillion is falling asleep on the back and close to dropping off the seat altogether.

It has been said already: there are quite a few advantages in a ferry/train service that runs very frequently: for one, if you are late, then they will nearly always get you on the next available crossing, no matter what one you were booked on - the same goes if you turn up early.
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  #9  
Old 24 Apr 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyingdoctor View Post
I upgrade to Club class lounge and crash on the floor.
Some ferries also have a children's play area with padded mattresses (near the coloured plastic balls) which are not in much use in the middle of the night. I've slept on those before without being disturbed.

However, I prefer the tunnel too for the reasons given above.
Stephan
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  #10  
Old 24 Apr 2008
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by squidge View Post
Speedferries has introduced the Hitchlugger product onboard their vessel. We used it last month with no problems and the ticket was only £30 return!

That's the one!
So much for "Fastferries", but I guess a search engine would have recognised the difference!

Great price BTW.
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  #11  
Old 24 Apr 2008
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Thumbs up channnel crossing

The ferry is usually the cheaper of the 2, of course the tunnel is the fastest.For the Dover crossing I have allways found Norfolk line to be the cheapest they also allow you to change crossing times and dates without trying to screw you for more of your hard earned cash. I have heard some people say they do not like it because it only goes to Dunkirk to me its neither here nor there if your going south to Paris its easier if your heading North its easier if your wanting to follow the Normandy coast down its 30kms out of your way it really is no big deal.Booking. I crossed 2 weeks ago today. I had tried to book on line on the Sunday before I went £36 return one person and one M/C and sidecar, there computor was on the blink so I left it, intending to re-book before I left home. I forgot and just rollled up at Dover. I went in the ticket office to book for the next ferry, they wanted £ 58.50 single to book at the port. There are 2 ways round this if you have a laptop book on there and then and you will be on the next boat at the full discount price, or ring you still get the discount price but have to pay a £2 admin charge either way is a lot cheaper.I've not got a clue as to the logic in there thinking, but thats big corporations for you. What do we the peasants know about logic.
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  #12  
Old 5 May 2008
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cross channel travel

Wouldn't use the ferries, what a waste of time. Speedferies takes less than an hour and is nowhere near the price of eurounnel and you don't have to sit on the floor at the back of the train for the entire journey, Speedferries fix the bike into a rack and you can go and get a coffee, we upgraded so the coffee and cake were free.
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  #13  
Old 5 May 2008
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A history of bikes on Eurotunnel

When the service officially opened in 1994 (14 years ago tomorrow - doesn't time fly), bikes were put in a special compartment just inside, behind the lower level entrance - you can still see the doors just behind you next time you go in, or in front of you just as you exit. The front wheel/tyre was ridden into a close fitting V-shaped wall mounted bracket and then straps, looped over handlebars, were ratchted down very tightly, leaving forks fully compressed. Riders then went upstairs to a small room above, with seats and a free water dispenser, for the journey.

After several claims for burst seals or damaged forks they abandoned this system and held bikes until all cars were loaded. Behind the last car they produced moveable trollys with a narrowing channel that you rode the front wheel onto until it was firmly (?) wedged. From now, riders then had stand with their bikes with nowhere to sit other than the floor or on the bike.

Because of some jostling and movement when the train goes over the points in the two 'Cross-over Caverns' under the sea near the coasts, some heavily top loaded bikes fell. More claims!

The trollys were abandoned and, again after all cars were loaded, we had to put bikes on centre stands, in pairs, facing forward behind the cars. I once was behind a heavily loaded K1100LT that fell forward off its stand and over (again, those rail points) and took two others with it in a domino effect - but thankfully not mine.

Finally they changed to the present system. Now bikes load with cars instead of waiting until last, but they are held in small batches to be at the rear of a carriage sooner than the back of the entire train. This is so no car can roll forward into bikes and the inter-carriage doors will (hopefully) prevent cars in the carriage behind rolling forward into the bikes should the train use emergency braking.

Bikes now park diagonally with front wheels resting against the raised (2") walkways and on their side stands. What they do with a bike without a prop stand I don't know.

Some form of seating other than the floor would indeed be good, but after a long ride it is nice to stand and stretch one's legs for a bit. It certainly was when I rode non-stop from beyond Berlin once!

- - - - - -

Some cars also had difficulties in the early days. In front (and rear) of the carriage doors of each carriage (which hold 5-6 cars) were large tubular crash-frames resting on the floor in the centre, between car wheel paths. These automatically raised as the doors closed and were to prevent cars rolling forward into the doors/next carriage in the event of train emergency braking. However these brackets were not low enough for some Porsches, Ferraris. Lambos, etc. that lost their exhausts. More claims - BIG ones!! The crash-frames were quickly removed.
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  #14  
Old 5 May 2008
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Thumbs down Eurotunnel rip off pricing policy...

I have recently 'endured' booking six of us, each with bikes, onto the same return crossing.

You phone up, get a quote and the you're told "The price will change as we book the other people on Sir"......WHAT?

1st booking was something like £80 by the time I got to the 6th the price had more than doubled!!!! Supply and demand they call it. RIP OFF I call it.

Complaining got some discount but not all of us on the cheapest price. The same also happens on-line but there is a way to beat the system..........

For 6 bookings open 6 booking windows, each one gets the same quote. Complete them one at a time after securing the quote. This is what I'll do next time.

Roger O.
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  #15  
Old 5 May 2008
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V2RJO

It might work - it might not.
Their booking computer keeps records of PC's identity number. It comes up with my name as soon as I make an enquiry.

Two Cheap Day or Afternoon/Evening Return tickets, one bought on each side, used to be far cheaper than a Standard Return (might not be so with the present pricing structure) but they kept a record of Cheap Day Tickets that were not used on the return leg. They also keep records of the Credit Card number used and they would not sell any more cheapies to you. Ferries do the same.

Thankfully I don't have these problems - I was an original 1987 investor and get unlimited trips at £1 per crossing, bike or car (doesn't have to be my vehicle, or me driving, just as long as I am in/on it). Needless to say I have bashed the Priviledge card somewhat for my own purposes or for pals who want a quick trip for stocking up on booze! Probably done 400-500 crossings by now.
Potentialy great chat-up line "I'll take you for dinner - got your passport?" They think I must have a private aeroplane. Sadly not that rich - nearly though, I run BMW bikes!!
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