Best Experience Crossing the Channel

Dec 28th, 2000, 11:26 AM
  #1  
mbb
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Best Experience Crossing the Channel

Although I know that the Chunnel is quick and easy, I am wondering if crossing the Channel via ferry might give us a different experience since we will be traveling quite a bit on trains. I don't want to burden the family with an unecessaryly long and burdensome trip. What are your preferred experiences?
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 11:28 AM
  #2  
mbb
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I goofed by not proofing. Please don't call me on this, I noticed right away.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 11:40 AM
  #3  
Lon
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I have done the ferry, the chunnel, and the hovercraft. I like the chunnel best for comfort and time. I remember one time on the hovercraft the seas became very rough and the craft was full of people puking all over the place - what a mess that was. I don't know if the hovercraft is still running or not, for some reason I think I saw that it was not in use any more. Anyone know for sure.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 12:50 PM
  #4  
Shanna
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When I rode the hovercraft, I wanted to shoot myself. Noisy, bumpy, with half of England making the round trip for the express purpose of buying duty free cigarettes and smoking as many as possible before disembarking. Hideous.

Now, the ferry - there is a ride. Took it in December with rough seas and a slight woozy sensation, easily overcome with a sandwich and a shandy. I love the black water meeting a gray sky, the boisterous schoolkids out on deck, the languid leisure, the contemplation, waving goodbye to the coast of France, watching the white cliffs of Dover rise from the Channel. The Romans made the crossing. William made the crossing. Henry V made the crossing. Hitler wanted to make the crossing; the Allies made it instead. Knowing that the same scenes have been witnessed, the same sensations experienced by so many over such a long history was overwhelming for me. Study the history of the channel, read maps - Dover, Folkestone, Calais, Bolougne, the Beaches. Prepare for it, then take the ferry.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 01:15 PM
  #5  
elvira
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Done the overnight ferry several times; the ride itself was fine, especially when I rented a cabin. I don't like it for the hassle of getting to/from the port to Paris/London - buses and trains add hours to your trip.

Definitely prefer the Eurostar train hands down - a few minutes via subway or taxi, and I'm at the station; a few minutes via subway or taxi, and I'm at my hotel. Via Eurostar, you can actually do a daytrip between Paris and London without too much stress.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 01:25 PM
  #6  
Kavey
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Added bonus of train is that it runs even in stormy weather, whereas the ferries have been suspended a few times recently due to bad weather, infact in October there was even one weekend where they were stuck in port, with passengers on board for hours because it was too stormy to dock.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 01:37 PM
  #7  
ann
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Took the ferry last summer. Very easy and pleasant and the sight of the white cliffs is so historic - you feel like you're in a movie. I think it took about an hour. There is a shuttle connection from the ferry (in Callis) to the train to Paris which was only another couple of hours (if I'm remembering correctly) - in any event we left dover after a lesiurely breakfast and were in Paris for a late lunch. We did take the TGV train - if you take a local it would be longer. We were in that part of England anyway (had a rental car). If you were just going to be in London then you would have to add in the time to get to Dover.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 01:54 PM
  #8  
Sam
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We cross to France 3 - 5 times a year and have tried each method a number of times. They all have different advantages.

Eurostar is just a train like any other. It feels cramped to me. If you take a car across and use the Shuttle, you stay seated in your car but can get out and walk around easily. Both these are very fast crossings. Eurostar takes you into the centre of Paris or Brussels etc.

Next fastest is the Dover - Calais at 75 minutes. At high season it can be very uncomfortably crowded. Quiet during the winter but can be rough. Good roads serving the port, and trains.

Portsmouth - Le Havre or Cherbourg takes a long time 5 hours+ but you can either take a cabin for the night crossing (but this puts the price up a lot), or make an occasion of it during the day. Good restaurant, cinema. Comforatble ship - P&O. Le Havre is about 1 1/2 hrs from the outskirts of Paris and good roads. Carry cash for the tolls on this road. Cherbourg is a bit out of the way, depending on where you are headed.

Hope this helps.

During the summer months only there is a faster crossing by catamaran "Fastcat". This is very comfortable, club class available, and takes only 3 3/4 hours. Favourite for us at the moment.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 01:59 PM
  #9  
Angela
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Hi
The hovercraft is not in service anymore, upkeep of the craft has proved too expensive as the hovercrafts in service until earlier this year were quite old. The Seacat catarmaran does the crossing in 60minutes (small and nothing much to do on board,also not really good for anyone prone to sea-sickness as it feels rough even on a calm sea)
I always prefer to take the ferry crossing, Dover to Calais and vice versa. It is a 90 minute crossing. The P&O ferries are very comfortable (esp the larger ones ie the Aquitane)with plenty to do on board, decks to explore ect. I too love arriving in English water and seeing the white cliffs of Dover ahead. Equally arriving in France and sailing alongside the beaches for a short while. On a clear day you can see both English and French land from either end of the ship. Much nicer than being in a tunnel, the ferry is definately not long or burdensome but a fun part of the trip to the continent. I'm travelling over tomorrow, hopefully it will not be too rough. I always drive and prices for the car are relatively expensive in the tunnel and by ferry for such a short journey, i have paid 150 return and this is a discounted price.
Angela
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 04:35 PM
  #10  
mbb
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Thank you all so much for your insights, particularly yours Shanna because I eliminated that idea right away. Yuk, nauseau and a smoking fest! To the rest of you, I really appreciate your well thought out responses. I will let my husband and two children read them and we will collectively decide. Thanks again.
 
Dec 28th, 2000, 05:43 PM
  #11  
steve
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The worst - St. Malo to Portsmouth (?)
Deck passage - loads of French teens running around - got almost no sleep - if you go this route - book a cabin
 

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