If there are many ways to get from England to France (plane, rail, boat), I have certainly done my fair share of channel ferry crossings. I spent many of my childhood summer holidays in France so have crossed umpteen times. But that was as a child where I was shepherded from place to place in a blissful bubble. As a fully fledged adult, I am now aware of my surroundings, and have to take responsibility and be in control of everything! Since I’ve been in charge, I have done two such crossings; Dover to Calais, and Poole to Cherbourg. So what are the Pros and Cons?
No pesky luggage restrictions. Pretty much as long as you can fit it in the car it’s ok. So you can take that extra pair of shoes or two, and the warm coat, and even the tennis rackets or snorkel just in case! You don’t have to worry about fitting it in a carry-on bag.
Easy Stress-Free Boarding Process. If you want a relaxing holiday this is a great way to start – you just drive up, wait a short time, and then straight onto the boat.
Space to move around. Once onboard you can walk around and stretch your legs, fall asleep, relax. You’re not stuck in a confined place.
Leisure facilities onboard. There is also a lot to do onboard – restaurant, shop, bar, i think the bigger ships have discos, casinos, and kids play areas. I normally spend the time on deck watching the sea, or in the restaurant which we found to have surprisingly affordable and delicious food.
Fresh Air – ferry is the only method of travel across the English Channel that enables you to get fresh air. On deck you can see for miles, catch some rays, watch ships going by, and best of all, not be trapped in a tin of recycled air (which always gives me a sore throat!). On our last crossing it was a glorious day and a flat sea, so we spent the crossing dosing off on top deck. It was like being on a cruise!
Not Flying – for someone who is scared to fly, the fact that I don’t have to fly is a massive bonus! It means i can enjoy the start of the holiday as opposed to being rigid with fear.
Driving onto the boat. I was worried about this but it was much better than I thought – you don’t have to drive up a plank or anything!! There is a large concrete bridge taking you on, which is no worse than driving across a normal bridge. However inside the boat I had to drive up a steep slope, and of course the car in front stopped so I had to do a hill-start. I stalled it twice!! I was starting to sweat and worry that I’d have to get a ferry man to come and drive my car for me, but luckily I did it!!
Possibility of Sea Sickness. This is always a risk with any form of transport but i am especially aware of it on the sea. Ironically it was worse on the short Dover-Calais crossing than the longer Poole-Cherbourg crossing. Luckily it was fine both times and I have got anti sea-sickness wrist bands to press on my pressure points. I also like to spend my time on top deck in the fresh air where you can watch the horizon to keep steady, if needed. See here for advice on how not to get sea sick if this is a problem for you!
Conclusion: Overall I love a ferry. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go!
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