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  #1  
Old 25 Feb 2009
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Dover to Calais, Ferry of Train?

Which is better? which is cheaper?
i've heard that with the train you can't really move around, you have to stay with your bike, but then it only takes 1/2 an hour?

so what do you guys do?
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  #2  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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When I came back though the tunnel last August (high season, presumably) it cost me over 100 Euros (solo, with motorcycle) which I thought was excessive, but then I wanted to see what all the fuss was about...

The tunnel is very straightforward, and infact only takes about 20 minutes - in the bike compartment you are meant to stand with your bike (a good idea, although it's not a rough crossing of course!), but there are toilets if you need them.

I don't know how much the ferry costs in comparision, but if you're making a return trip, then why not do one each way just for fun - then you can compare for yourself?

xxx
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  #3  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMo (& piglet) View Post
When I came back though the tunnel last August (high season, presumably) it cost me over 100 Euros (solo, with motorcycle) which I thought was excessive, but then I wanted to see what all the fuss was about...

The tunnel is very straightforward, and infact only takes about 20 minutes - in the bike compartment you are meant to stand with your bike (a good idea, although it's not a rough crossing of course!), but there are toilets if you need them.

I don't know how much the ferry costs in comparision, but if you're making a return trip, then why not do one each way just for fun - then you can compare for yourself?

xxx
Yes, Euro100 excessive. We crossed calais to dover 4 weeks ago on P&O and paid GBP41 for a big 4wd and 2 people. We are heading back again in a week and found a ticket for GBP21 single from dover to dunkurque with norfolk lines.

We book the tickets with direct Ferries. Its obvioiusly better to travel late at night or very early in the morning to get the best price.
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  #4  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMo (& piglet) View Post
When I came back though the tunnel last August (high season, presumably) it cost me over 100 Euros (solo, with motorcycle) which I thought was excessive, but then I wanted to see what all the fuss was about...

The tunnel is very straightforward, and infact only takes about 20 minutes - in the bike compartment you are meant to stand with your bike (a good idea, although it's not a rough crossing of course!), but there are toilets if you need them.

I don't know how much the ferry costs in comparision, but if you're making a return trip, then why not do one each way just for fun - then you can compare for yourself?

xxx
I personally love the train/tunnel.. we used it peak season last year, we booked online (18hours in advance in france and it was only 24€, on the way over it was a week in advance and only 12£)

the trick is pick the cheapest time that you are actually willing to travel... then show up as early as you want.. If there is room they always let bikes on no matter what the ticket said... we got on the most expensive train and paid the cheapest price.. it was grand! and the 20 min ride on ride off is also so easy that it is worth it... Pack a lunch sit with your bike eat... and bang it is time to get off...
(FYI it is not a bike only thing that has to say with the vehicle.. cars do do.. basically it is to quick to get bored and need to move around..)
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  #5  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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The tunnel is great. Fast, easy, convenient. You can get it quite cheap if you pick your time, you can get it virtually free if you have Tesco Clubcard vouchers to use, and you can get 4% cashback via Quidco.

I'd pick the tunnel every time. It will be a little bit more expensive than the ferry, assuming you DON'T buy any of the overpriced food and drink on the ferry, but not all that much more.

A big advantage is that you stay right with your bike so you don't have to take any luggage off and you have access to all your stuff and the bike, and you don't have to faff about with tie down straps. It's dead easy to find, you have automated check-in, and you'll be put on the soonest available train with space.

The downside is that you don't have anywhere to sit apart from the floor, but it's an awful lot quieter than the seating areas on the ferry. And the toilets are DISGUSTING.

But still, no contest!
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  #6  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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The tunnel has the advantage of speed and always running regardless of the weather, but the speed part only counts if are prepared. I can pole onto the ferry and go buy a sandwich and a cuppa, get the odd present, sort my maps and GPS, add/remove layers, make phone calls, use the gents etc. On the train the toilets are disgusting, you'd worry about leaving an unsupported bike and you can't buy anything. You can loose the time advantage if you have to drop into a the next services for food or whatever.

I'd use which ever you can get the best deal on.

I just priced up our honeymoon (in the car ). With food, a nights accomodation and the fuel from Dover to Leeds, the Hull ferry worked out about a tenner more and a lot less hassle.

Andy
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  #7  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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I live not that far from both the ferry and the tunnel but use both. The tunnel if I am actually traveling somewhere for a purpose as it's quicker but boring and not that comfy oh and yes the toilets aren't all they could be! But I use the ferries if it's more for pleasure as it's a more relxed trip and I also feel is certainly better on returning from the continent after a reasonable trp on the other side as you can nearly always find a quiet corner and rest for a while before continuing back in the uk. it's horses for courses but I think the ferry has the edge.

P.S Not too keen on Seafrance as it is owned by our european coussins who have a tendancy to strike at a moments notice and I have been caught by this twice before. P&O will normalluy accept the ticket though you may have to wait for space.
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  #8  
Old 26 Feb 2009
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Tunnel, every time. Used to really like Ferries but Tunnel is so easy, fast. Usually in France and away before the Ferry would even have left Dover.
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  #9  
Old 1 Mar 2009
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I may change...

Bing very tight fisted I have always used the ferry - for my last crossing my return fare was less than the train one way which was no contest for me. Plus, from near Oxford I'm ready to stop, eat and walk around by the time I reach Dover (others prefer higher stage mileages but I don't), so I might as well do so on the boat as save 45 minutes on the train and then stop for an hour in France. I did however suffer a fate worse than death - when I joined the queue to board last time I was next to a coach and could clearly hear 50 odd very young voices "singing" (yelling) "The wheels on the bus". My crossing was enlivened by a coachload of very excited primary school children! It was a very long crossing. My sympathy goes to the driver of the coach.

I know I'd get better and cheaper food stopping in France and the check in time means I lose a lot of the the day on the ferry. I may take Xander's advice and try a cheap time on the train and turn up early next time (cheers X).

Last edited by MarkE; 1 Mar 2009 at 11:02. Reason: I really should preview before submitting
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  #10  
Old 1 Mar 2009
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Last year a friend and I didnt know where or when we would be crossing back to the UK from the continent so couldn't book anything in advance. It was a completely spur of the moment kind of trip with my mate buying his bike the day before we left, 30 days and 5000 miles later we arrived in Calais around 0200 checked out both prices. The Ferry was the obvious answer being less than half that of the train. Also allowed us to get a lil kip from the slog we just had from Poland. May next time check out the train if planning in advanced.

Happy Riding
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  #11  
Old 1 Mar 2009
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I think also it is a question of timing.
I live in west france and am 6 hous or so from Roscoff or Dieppe. ( four from St. malo) 5 from caen.
I have found the least stressful trip for me is to take an overnight ferry to to/from England. That way I arrive with all day to get home or to my Uk destination.
When I go back to Cornwall I take the afternoon sailing from roscoff to plymouth arriving 9.30 pm as it takes less than two hours to get to the part of Cornwall I want. I think it silly to arrive in a foreign country in the evening and have to search for accomodation. The overnight in a cabin may be long, but I would sleep by night anyway, and is much better to arrive early morning having had sleep and a good breakfast and with a whole day before me.
As an aside, make sure you have plenty of fuel to get clear of the arrival port.

Last edited by oldbmw; 1 Mar 2009 at 21:15. Reason: tripo
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  #12  
Old 2 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
I think it silly to arrive in a foreign country in the evening and have to search for accomodation. The overnight in a cabin may be long, but I would sleep by night anyway, and is much better to arrive early morning having had sleep and a good breakfast and with a whole day before me.
This is a good point, which is why I like the Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry for getting to Spain for the same reason... ok, I know that's a long way from Calais! but that's the point if you are heading to Spain/Morocco etc then it's worth considering - saves a lot of boring road miles, your tyres, and at least one night in a hotel en route...

Didn't realise the loo's on the Chunnel were so bad guys - glad I didn't have to visit them!

Unfortunately I turned up in the middle of the day on spec when I used the Tunnel last year (!) - next time I'll do what Xander suggested - good idea!

xxx
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  #13  
Old 14 Mar 2009
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My experience with the whole 'crossing of the English Channel' business is that if you show up at the last minute, without having made a reservation some weeks in advance and most especially without having bought a round trip ticket, you are going to get screwed - it will be expensive no matter how you choose to cross the Channel.

I've taken the train several times in the past and without any question, it is the simplest, fastest, and most stress-free way to get from A to B. You just ride on, put the bike on its centerstand, and hang around with it for 30 minutes while the train goes through the tunnel. There's nothing wrong with having to stay with the bike - there's jack-shit to see out the windows of the train, and all the bikes get put in the same wagon, so you can talk to other riders for half an hour.

If you are not in a hurry, you can shop around the different companies on the internet to see who might have a one-way special available - but the prices change hourly.

Stena lines runs an overnight ferry from the UK to Holland, you ride on, tie the bike down, sleep for 6 hours, then ride off. Breakfast is included. It is more expensive than a normal ferry crossing, but if you factor in that you don't have to pay for a night of hotel lodging and you don't 'lose' any riding time on the overnight voyage, it is a pretty good deal.

Michael
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  #14  
Old 16 Mar 2009
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Another operator(LD Lines) has opened up on the Dover to Boulogne route after speedferries collapsed.Although it is not a seacat.They are also going to start a Dover to Dieppe service which I think is a first for Dover.
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Old 16 Mar 2009
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I'm amazed at these cheap tunnel fares quoted. I've never seen such prices when I looked. But I'll try again.
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