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Channel crossing: Ferry or Eurotunnel? Hassle value? Hanging around?

(22 Posts)
miljee Thu 22-Feb-07 19:22:16

We're planning on going to France this summer- should we take the P&O ferry (1.5 hours) or the Eurotunnel (35mins)? What I really want to know is the REAL journey time ie do you have to hang around for 3-4 hours at the ferry port or Eurotunnel station? Which, apart from the actual journey time, gets you there quickest? We're looking at late May for 2 weeks. Any advice gratefully received! Incidentally, the tunnel will cost 183 quid, the ferry 85, comparing similar times.

PrettyCandles Thu 22-Feb-07 19:24:41

IME the tunnel is worthwhile if you have not got much further to travel once you get off the train. It's a fast, easy trip, with minimal hanging around. If, OTOH, you have a long way to go then you might as well take the cheaper ferry.

USAUKMum Thu 22-Feb-07 19:54:52

We're doing this trip in Aug. And was all set to book the tunnel when DH reminded me that the DC will have to sit in the car during the crossing as there really isn't anywhere for them to go. There is a small area but not really suitable for our 2.5 & 5.11 DC. BTW I haven't been on the tunnel, but this is what DH reports. So we went with the ferry. As though it is longer on board, they have the facilities.

USAUKMum Thu 22-Feb-07 19:55:29

Sorry I meant we are doing this trip beginning of APRIL.

buktus Thu 22-Feb-07 19:59:07

tunnel is a must, we have been to france twice now third time will be in may, the first time we took the ferry, complete nightmare, took ages to get all the cars on, then ages for everyone to get on deck then the ferry leaves then all again the other side, except the french were on strike so we had to be on for another 2 hours, i would say it adds a good hour on the 35 mins

the tunnel is great it says arrive 45 mins before but you go to a m,achine tap in your booking number and if a train is free which it usually is you can baord a little earlier, you line up in your car then drive on to the train takes about 10 mins at the most, 35 mins on train and then depending on where you are on the train at the very most 10 mins getting off

BettySpaghetti Thu 22-Feb-07 20:04:22

We're going to Belgium (via France) at Easter and we're going by tunnel.

DP would happily go by ferry but I'm not keen on sea travel and the slightest "rough" sea and I go this colour .

I also find though that with the ferry theres lots of faffing around waiting etc -you have to wait to board the boat, when you get on the boat you have the nightmare of getting children bags etc out of the car safely (whilst other cars are driving on and everyones trying to unload children and bags!). Then at the other end you have to wait to go back to your vehicle, wait to disembark etc........

Tunnel may be more expensive but I think its worth it for my sanity

miljee Thu 22-Feb-07 20:09:09

Many thanks! I've taken the tunnel myself on a coach daytrip 8 years ago and on the Eurostar, both entirely acceptable experiences, but I thought the drill for going solo with a car might be more trouble but apparently not. As a teenager I used to take the Ostende ferry and I remember the before and after hassle was ENDLESS after several hours of seasickness, and I was a foot passenger! This time, we'd have a 2 hour trip this end to Folkestone, and 4 1/2 the other. I'm not worried about the bit sitting in the car with the kids, luckily (6 and 8). Bring on the Gameboys! So the 100 quid discrepancy is probably worth it. Especially when I realise our closest ferries (Poole or Portsmouth) to a French port 2 hours from our destination cost about 480 quid..!

BettySpaghetti Thu 22-Feb-07 20:14:39

miljee -a few more tips if you are going by tunnel:

-book direct through the eurotunnel site -cheaper than various other sites that come up when you google it

-check the costs for different times of travel as it can vary massively. We saved quite a bit by adjusting the times we will travel.

- you can use Tesco Club Card vouchers apparently. Unfortunately we didn't find this out until DP used ours for a weekly shop. It would have saved us a fortune.

crunchie Thu 22-Feb-07 20:20:41

Personally I prefer the ferry, you can pay £12 and get priority loading which means first on first off the ferry (arrive about 30- 45 mins before) I then find I can get out of the card and go for breakfast (we go early am) and sit in confort and get spoilt (we go to the posh resturant) On the tunnel you sit in your car for 35 - 45 mins with airline loos and nowhere to go.

However it does depend if you see the journey as just thatm or as part of the hliday IYKWIM

Leslaki Thu 22-Feb-07 20:46:01

Have to agree with Crunchie. The ferry gives you a break from the car and you can wander about, buy some duty free if you fancy it, have some food, let the kids play in the play area, see the sea etc etc. I hate the tunnel, you sit in your car the whole time or wander up and down past other cars. Nothing to see and I don't like feeling I have no escape if something happened! Just to end on a chery note! We used the tunnel to go to Paris which wasn' so bad as it's a short journey the other end but in Aug we're going to Brittany (couldn't afford the ST Malo crossing unfortunately!) so with a 7 hour journey ahead of us we'll need the break!

BettySpaghetti Thu 22-Feb-07 20:55:27

I can see your point about the ferry being a break however if you suffer from travel sickness, believe me, its not fun!

I long for the days when you can tele-port yourself from A to B

CountessDaveula Thu 22-Feb-07 20:56:23

oh yes defo tunnel

snorkle Thu 22-Feb-07 23:51:34

Message withdrawn

themoon66 Thu 22-Feb-07 23:59:14

Tunnel every time for us. I get mega sea sick, as does DS and I found that even worse on speedferries as the fumes were so bad. Also, I save my tesco vouchers for eurotunnel and get four time their value, which usually means a free trip for us.

unknownrebelbang Thu 22-Feb-07 23:59:45

We tend to use the ferry, and will be doing so in April.

We used the tunnel once (coach trip) and got horrendous delays due to snow. I know it was only once a long long time ago, but the memory remains.

KTeePee Fri 23-Feb-07 07:42:38

The Michelin website said tunnel was faster for our trip - so we are giving it a go this summer - what swung it was being able to use the Tesco vouchers already mentioned

janinlondon Fri 23-Feb-07 10:28:16

We always use the tunnel. And never yet sat in the car. DD gets out and talks with other kids from other cars - sometimes in other carriages. They compare books, toys, where they're going, etc. It is only 35 mins, but you don't have to sit in the car!

Marina Fri 23-Feb-07 10:42:00

We have never used the tunnel and departed at or before our booked departure time . Maybe we've been unlucky, but I hate the sitting in the car, and we don't use it anymore.
The shopping centre is way better than the dreadful facilities at Dover Ferryport now though
Miljee, if you are heading south past Boulogne, you might want to consider Speedferries who do a seacat service between Dover and Boulogne. We have used them several times and they are fast, efficient and friendly. Nice staff, boat is not exactly the Ritz of the high seas but there is Lego for the children. They are also often cheaper than both your other options. And now there is a whizzo fast way out of Boulogne onto the A28 motorway too.

Azure Fri 23-Feb-07 10:48:24

Traditionally I've been the biggest fan of the tunnel - it's so easy to drive on and even better drive off and away. We used the tunnel and Speedferries last year. With the tunnel we turned up mega early but didn't bring forward our departure as we wanted breakfast (we had left home at around 5am). We got to the queue in decent time and our whole line was bumped off the departure, meaning we had to wait 30 mins for the next one (no explanation given). The journey itself - though short - was boring for our little ones. With Speedferries the boarding amd unloading was surprisingly efficient and it was nice to have the break of the 50 minutes on board - the kids enjoyed walking (well, the littlest was crawling) around especially as they had been in the car for a while getting there and would be in the car for a while the other end. Did feel a bit queasy on the way back, though - better when I was outside. I'm surprised to say that for us, given its much cheaper price, the ferry was the best option.

Twinkie1 Fri 23-Feb-07 10:49:26

We go by boat quite often - always get on quickly and the DCs get to get out of the car and have a walk around and a drink and it breaks the journey for them.

Enid Fri 23-Feb-07 10:49:27

we live miles from eurotunnel so use the ferry

very efficient and the kids enjoy the run around

Marina Fri 23-Feb-07 11:04:18

I've had that bumping experience at least twice at Eurotunnel azure and I think their customer service sucks - nice to know it's not just me though
Janh first linked to Speedferries on here and I would like to kiss her Venerable Mumsnetter Toes for it. They are fab.

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