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almost human !!!
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757 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Obviously living in Germany I’ve made the journey back and forth on many occasions. I’ve used every method of getting across that is on offer (although I haven’t swam or rowed across in a rubber dingy….yet)
Anyway, easily the cheapest & best route is Calais – Dover. We now have two options Ferry or chunnel.
IMHO
Ferry plus points
Cheapest option. You can disembark your vehicle, Walk around the boat, Get refreshments, Have an hours kip, Do some shopping. Basically chill out for an hour.
Ferry minus points
Boats on a 2 hourly basis, so if you are really unlucky you may have to wait 1hr 45 mins until the next boat. This added to a 1hr 30 min crossing means that from entering Dover docks to exiting Calais docks you have a crossing time of 3 hrs 15 mins. Longer if it is a rough sea and the boat sails slower.
Chunnel plus points
Trains every 20 minutes at peak times. So if you are lucky when you arrive at Folkstone terminal, you drive straight through check in, border control, customs, security and onto the train, this plus a 30 minute train ride, give you a total crossing time of under 1 hour. Worst case scenario 1 hr 20 minutes to enter Folkstone and exist Calais. (maybe even longer if driving a high van) No sea sickness. You stay with your bike all the time, so you can keep an eye on it.
Chunnel minus points
More expensive, cannot provide any of the creature comforts the ferry does. Nowhere to sit other than in your vehicle / on yer bike.
Summary
The chunnel wins for me every time, unless I need a kip mid journey, purely on the greatly reduced crossing time. Planet XRV it’s over to you……
 

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yet another Dave
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2,854 Posts
for me, any crossing but dover/folkstone! you have to look at distances from A-B but living within sight of portsmouth ferry terminal makes my choice easy. calais/boulogne is good for going your way or benelux etc, but the ride from here to dover is horrible. and the £40 petrol to get there makes the ferries from portsmouth cheaper anyway. my favourite is the overnight LDlines to le havre, but the fastcat to cherbourg is good when its running. it might be longer distance to get where your going but i would rather do my holiday riding in france than england!
we went to the coupes moto legende in dijon a few years ago and were booked on the dover/boulogne speedferries cat, but the french fishermen decided to blockade the port so we quickly got places on the le havre ferry the night before we wouldve left, kipping in the bar of all places. afterwards when we compared distance/petrol/time/cost, it was shorter, cheaper and quicker to do what we did than go to boulogne, and a much nicer ride
 

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When I cross the channel it's normally out on the early morning 'red eye' and back on the late evening 'black eye' crossing.

I live within 30mins of Dover so my perfect crossing would be the red eye ferry to Calais (breakfast and time to wake up) and the quickest route back which is the black eye train to Dover.

But as that option would cost more than I earn in a year I take the ferry both ways. I also pay the extra to get waited on in the Club Lounge :cool:
 

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yet another Dave
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club lounge, ooo 'ark at 'im mr la de da! how much extra is that
 

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Wing Commander
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Chad and I went via the Chunnel recently. I'd always do the Chunnel if doing that crossing. It's quick and easy, if boring because there's nothing to do.

But we went to Normandy and the best option there is ferry from Portsmouth. Even better is overnight, with a cabin.

Chunnel and then 300 motorway miles with tolls (about a tenner) and all the fuel that entails (four hours flat out riding at speed), versus less than an hour's minor roads, no tolls.

But another consideration is that miss a ferry and you have missed it. The chunnel gives you two hours leeway either side - get there early and they will let you on earlier if they have space. Get there two hours late and they will schedule you for a later crossing.
 

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Ridden for years
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Very biased I'm afraid. Chunnel everytime.
No where to sit? you're only on there 35 minutes max, less the five minutes putting your gear back on.
You want a drink and sit down? Arrive 45 minutes before and go to the lounge.
Just missed it? Well, there's the next one.
Maybe it's because we're only 1.5 hours from tunnel and we just want to get over to Europe.
Told you we were biased:D
Used to take ferry years ago. Chunnel - quick, often and simple.
 

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Another chunnel vote - used to use the ferry from Dover/Folks but having to arrive an hour before adds to the time it takes to cross alone. Then theres the issue if you miss it...hence arriving early to ensure....and then the weather/sea sickness.

If I lived closer to the SW Id use the ferry options overnight etc, decent value when you take in the fuel etc, but if you where going to Germany youd still have a better time/cost option on the chunnel.

First time I chunnel'd it, I arrived early, boarded within 15 mins, got off bike, had a drink and a chat with other biker bloke, then had to rush to pack my drink/food away as we arrived already! So bloody quick! 30 min just flies by...hardly time to stop for a pee.

On this note, it doesnt break the journey up so if your tired you need to resist the ability to board early and head to the lounge. Decent facilities at both sides, like an airport...not like the crappy docks facilities (although onboard ferry is better).
 

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I used the chunnel in November to ride down to Mallorca caught the 3.05,which gave me a long day to get some miles in,first time on the chunnel for me,it was quick and efficent and I`ll use it again.:thumbleft::thumbup: :thumb::thumbup: :thumb::thumbup:
 

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Top Cat
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I tend to start at the same place and finish at the same place, so I've developed a spreadsheet to do the calculations for me.

All I have to do is put in the cost of fuel, check that the tolls haven't gone up and then do a little research on the web for ferry costs. The spreadsheet then tells me which is cheapest door-to-door.

Over the last decade or so:
Brittany Ferries is almost always the most expensive.
The Chunnel is next most expensive (as a result I've never used it. May this year will be the first time - and I'm paying 25 per cent more than the P&O crossing just to try it!)
P&O/Stena via Dover/Calais plus fuel and tolls works out a fraction less than LD Lines (with reclining seat) Portsmouth/Le Havre plus less fuel and no tolls.
Every now and again a relative bargain slips under the radar (such as Portmouth - Cherbourg with P&O), so you can't ignore them.

Pros and cons for each, so you pays your money and you takes your choice.
 

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If your from the north or scotland i'd say use the overnight ferry from hull, it's more expensive than the dover route but once taking fuel and time into account i'd say hull is a better option for us northern lads.
 

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Stop looking at my Member
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266 Posts
Chunnel for me everytime, just the thought of a sea crossing does this :puke:to me.

Interestingly, it states on the website that there are no facilities at the Terminal for bikes and nowhere for them to park.

This tallies with the lady who was boarding the train who chatted with me whilst she let me have a *** on the platform. She told me that Eurotunnel always endeavour to put bikes on the very next train leaving having given enough time for customs and passport control. As they put bikes on at the back, in case they topple and get in the way of others, there's lamost always a space for them.

The last trip I made I was in one of the double height cars all by my lonesome, VERY surreal !
 

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If your from the north or scotland i'd say use the overnight ferry from hull, it's more expensive than the dover route but once taking fuel and time into account i'd say hull is a better option for us northern lads.
I find the trip down through England seems much worse than the trip back and I usualy go Hull/Zebrugge there and Calais/Dover home, the cost is £110 more for the hull ferry but saves nearly that in hotel fuel and tyers
:blob7:
 

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yet another Dave
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I tend to start at the same place and finish at the same place........
we all do mate, its called HOME :D:D:D

sorry....


as you say there are pros and cons to each route, if i was coming down from up country like most of you guys do i would shop around, but living a stones throw from portsmouth and being able to ignore the time/cost of just getting to a ferry kind of makes it a no brainer for me.

also i like the ferry rather than the chunnel because it feels like youre going somewhere? otherwise france is nearer to my house than wales, if it was a 30min whizz on a train with no windows (it doesnt even feel its moving with a good driver) and it doesnt feel like ive gone anywhere, if that makes sense?
ive had advice that says use the chunnel in the wee hours, its much cheaper, is that true?
 

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Stop looking at my Member
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266 Posts
Having just been spurred on to look at discounts on the Eurotunnel by the Longest Day group I've noticed a distinctly cheaper small hours price.

Stupidly though the frequent user discount generally isn't cheaper when you factor in that every day of the year carries a £20 one way supplement for travelling between 08:00 and 16:00 (and the later equivalent for the return) except on the days where it is £30... pointless !
 

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In search of 7th gear!
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I've not used the Chunnel before, I always used the Dover/Dunkirk ferry. Cheap as chips (as little as £35 for a return), with your ticket you can take the ferry before or after your original booking at no extra cost (book the cheap one, then show up for the more expensive one).

Downside to the ferry, I don't like strapping down the bike, for some reason the KTM doesn't play nice with the ferry and I have to mess around with the suspension settings to get it to sink low enough so she doesnt' come fully upright & off her side stand after a little moving around.

Next time I'll probably try the tunnel.

JB
 

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Ridden for years
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also i like the ferry rather than the chunnel because it feels like youre going somewhere
I thought seeing the French spelling on the other side gave it away that you were somewhere:rolleyes::D

Oh and last night, we've booked our Brittany ferries crossing.
I'm going off roading in Portugal again and my wife is going horse riding:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
 

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one of the lost boys
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Buggles:thumbup: I use the Dunkirk route with the van and yes by far the cheapest, a long crossing but cheap.

The Varadero is also very upright so I carry my own strap, use the main ferry strap for security in moving about but additional strap from the engine bars to stop it going over to the right. The bike went over on a Norwegian ferry and I struggled to pick the fekker up. On one boat there was no tie down option so I ran a strap under a car tyre :thumbup:
 
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