Reviewed by Meresa Bergin
We decided to use P&O Ferries on our trip to Calais. The site was very easy to use for booking our tickets and had a wide range of times to leave and prices, the customer service helpline was also very useful when I called to ask if we would be able to take our son’s ashes on the ferry with us to France they were very informative and understanding.
The night before we went to Calais we decided to stay near the port for the 11.10am ferry the next day. It was nice to look over the port and see all the boats and ferries coming and going. My husband called to check how far away the check in was for the ferry and where it was based, it was a little confusing as this time the staff member who answered appeared to think we wanted to know how long it would take to walk to the end of the port where the ferry left, even though this was impossible!
Arriving at the ferry port by foot in Dover is very easy and the passenger check-in is easy to find, the port is undergoing work at the moment so wasn’t the most attractive thing to look at, sadly. In the check in lounge there is a coffee shop and toilets for you to use whilst you wait. Check in was easy, I have never been abroad before so I was anxious but it all went well. You do need to check in an hour before the ferry leaves so it is advisable to take a book or something to do whilst you wait as there isn’t a lot to do there.
There is a bus which takes you to the ferry, we had to go through customs to be checked this doesn’t happen every time and my husband seemed to have all the metal things possible on his person so it took some time but did seem to amuse the driver! Arriving at the ferry I was amazed by its size, I of course knew ferries were big but this was huge! We were shown on-board and I notice the plan of where everything was.
On-board there is plenty of seating areas, places to get food and drinks, video games and a shop. Upstairs there is also a food court and bar so really anything you could want or need. I also thought it was useful they had a place to change money and also a place to charge your phone (you need to pay but still this useful if you forgot your charger!). Staff were helpful and appeared to really enjoy their jobs, one even helped me fix my glasses when they decided to break!
The shop also had lots of duty free which people seemed to really be making the most of, I brought some perfume but as we were on foot we could not buy wine which was a great price! I also felt the coffee shop and food court were well priced, the coffee is a Starbucks and prices were the same as they are in store. The food court had more choices of food from fried breakfasts to salads and curries, there is really something for everyone, the also have kids menus and cater to all dietary issues such as gluten free.
Sadly on our journey there it was very windy so this did make me a little sick but the driver was amazing at getting us there safely and on time! On our way back the seas were a lot calmer and I was able to go up on the deck to look out which was lovely and seeing the cliffs of Dover as we came back was amazing. The journey each way is about 90 minutes.
We travelled on The Pride of Canterbury on the way and The Pride of Kent on the way back, both ferries were very similar I was told there are newer ferries, I would like to see one of these on a returned trip to Calais.
The only small niggles I had was whilst there is a lot of British souvenirs on-board there is a real lack of France, whilst this is not a huge thing and most people will buy whilst there, I feel it is a market they are missing out on. I happened to forget to by my mother in law something in Calais and needed to buy something on-board and the most I could find was a fridge magnet! And when we got off the ferry in Calais there was no bus and no one spoke English, I know a little French but I had no ideas what we were meant to do and some passengers began to walk around the port, which is dangerous, it turned out the bus was late but really a member of staff should of stood with us and explained this.
We will take P&O ferries again when we return to Calais later in the year, it is such good value with one way tickets from £39 each and there are always plenty of offers for discounted tickets, you can also upgrade to tickets to use the club lounge, our ticket did not include this so I cannot comment on it but it looks very nice from the photos, ferries are so regular and only 50 minutes on average ,there is really no reason to not go!
At the moment there is a 15% discount until the 31st October if booked by the 15th so get your skates on and catch a great deal now!
Tickets from Dover to Calais start from £39 each way. For more information or to make a booking visit www.poferries.com or telephone the call centre on 0800 130 0030.
P&O Ferries sail from Dover to Calais, Hull to Rotterdam, Hull to Zeebrugge, Troon to Larne, Cairnryan to Larne and Liverpool to Dublin.