Last year I partnered with P&O Ferries for a trip to Northern France. When they asked me last month if I would like to travel from Dover to Calais again to highlight the range of onboard experiences they offer I jumped at the chance. My first trip had been such a great experience and have been wanting to incorporate more ferry travel into my trips.
Passenger numbers for ferry journeys are increasing and it’s clear to see why. With life being so hectic for most people travelling by ferry is hassle free and having a car with you allows you to explore more of the country you sail to. Despite low cost airlines it’s usually cheaper to cross from the UK to France by ferry – and as someone who likes to take A LOT of stuff with them on holiday, loading up the car and not worrying about luggage limitations really appeals to me!
So yes, I jumped at the chance and P&O Ferries gave me a little bucketlist of things to experience whilst onboard and share with my followers on Instagram which included seeing the White Cliffs of Dover from the deck, buying something from the onboard shop and settling down to relax in the Club Lounge with a G&T…surely the best way to start a trip?
My friend Neil and I arrived at Dover and sailed through check-in with quick handover of passports and reservation number. After a short wait in line we drove onboard the Pride of Burgundy (love the names they give the ships!) and were directed to our parking space by deck crew (they do an amazing job!).
We headed straight upstairs and outside onto the deck. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect weather to enjoy seeing the White Cliffs of Dover as we sailed out of the harbour into the English Channel. There was plenty of space on deck for everyone to get a good view and actually, the ferry at no point felt full or crowded.
Next we went down to the World Duty Free shop. I was amazed at what was on offer: fragrances (with at least 20% off the average high street price), cosmetics, wine, spirits, beers (in case you hadn’t stocked up enough in France!) and some essential digital products too like adapters, headphones - and chargers which is usually the thing I forget! Bucketlist entry number two was ticked off when I bought a cute Winnie the Pooh cuddly toy for my six month old niece Evie…well, I had to bring her back a gift from my trip didn’t I?!
Lastly, we went up to the Club Lounge. This I think is a great idea. You upgrade to the Lounge when you book the ferry. It’s the perfect way to relax on the crossing with a complimentary glass of champagne, soft or hot drink and some delicious light bites. They also offer a special Club Lounge menu for more hearty meals. The stewards in the Lounge couldn’t have been friendlier and it felt a little bit like being at home on my sofa it was that comfy - although my sofa at home doesn’t have uninterrupted sea views! I took my G&T and as the French coast came into view we sat outside in the Club Lounge’s seating area (we were the only people out there!) and enjoyed the sun.
Disembarking was as easy as boarding. Once the ferry had docked we were off within minutes and almost as quickly were driving down beautiful French country roads lined with poppies. We drove to the stunning sandy beach at Escalles at the foot of the Cap Blanc Nez and then headed for lunch in the charming village of Wissant where we had a late lunch before heading back.
It was only a 30 minute drive back to the Port of Calais and again, breezed through check in and once more found ourselves onboard, this time The Spirit of France. On my journey back I decided to ask my followers on Instagram to send through any questions they may have about the ferry and was inundated with questions!
Here are the answers to a selection of them:
How long does the crossing take?
The Dover to Calais crossing takes 90 minutes which flies by. Check in closes 45 minutes before departure time.
How much seating is there?
Loads! Inside there are so many spots to be with a group or find some peace and quiet. There is also an outdoor viewing deck in the main part of the ship and a quieter more private outside area attached to the Club Lounge.
How many times does the ferry run?
There are up to 23 crossings per day on this route.
What is the crossing like, I get seasick?
The crossing was incredibly smooth – and I am usually someone who suffers from seasickness too. I actually asked one of the onboard crew this question on the crossing and was told that in extremes of weather the ships don’t make the crossing. Which makes sense, but in general in almost all types of weather and it’s fairly smooth.
What is recycling like?
I was really surprised to see a bank of recycling bins available in the food court encouraging recycling of everything, including food waste!
Is there a WiFi package or does 4G work out at sea?
Yes! For only £2 you can buy access to the onboard WiFi which worked really well. However, 3G and 4G continued to work throughout the trip, with only a dip mid-Channel when I lost it for a few minutes as it switched over from the English to French network.
Would you feel safe on the ferry travelling alone?
Very! I would have thought it unlikely that a ferry as large as this would be empty, but even with fewer people onboard than I experienced, the staff are very visible and unbelievably helpful.
What food options are available on this route?
There is a large food court which serves hot and cold food (the hand-battered haddock and chips looked amazing!), a coffee shop serving Starbucks, a bar and also the Club Lounge. There is also a restaurant where we enjoyed a hearty cooked and continental breakfast which after an early start to reach the ferry was much needed!
I really hope more people consider ferry travel as a way to reach the continent. It’s easy, comfortable and for me just means that I am able to enjoy more freedom at my destination because I have a car. Thanks P&O Ferries for inviting me to explore more onboard. I’ll be back!
For more information on the routes P&O Ferries offer head to: www.poferries.com
They also have a great adventure planner tool which I found really helpful for my Dover to Calais trip but there are lots of great suggestions available here: