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Best ferry fares – How to get the best or cheapest day trip cross channel fares to France from a survey by, the web magazine for cross channel shoppers and holiday makers

ferry fares calais

Surveys of day trip fares – the cheapest and the best value

We often do surveys to find out how to get the best deal when crossing the channel. The results are in many ways alarming. The latest round of increases has affected day-trippers badly with many of the most popular fares going up dramatically compared with December 2001.

With the end of Duty free on 1st July 1999, the cross channel companies have struggled to maintain their profits. Vast profits were made and the loss felt was a big one. On the other hand restrictions were (supposedly) abolished and shoppers were able to (and do) buy much greater quantities of tobacco and alcohol. Fares rocketed immediately after the end of Duty Free, the companies seemingly oblivious to the basic fact that increasing prices dramatically, discourages people from buying the product on offer. There has been much yo-yoing around with price levels and types of ticket. Last year (2001) it seemed common sense had finally taken hold and prices dropped to what we consider to be acceptable levels. Foot and mouth was blamed, but in reality, excessive prices had taken their toll, as had the campaign by HM Revenue and Customs to effectively prevent British citizens from travelling freely and to shop in other E.U. countries.

The cross channel companies (who lose money) have never been averse to taking advantage of holiday time to bump up prices. Normally prices would increase at a busy time of the year such as the run up to Christmas. Last years reductions were refreshing to say the least. We expected them to last – unfortunately this is not so.

This site exists to represent cross channel shoppers, and to encourage cross channel shopping. Not only is it fun, but there is no better way to protest against the very excessive taxation levels we have in the United Kingdom Competition and free trade work (lower prices for you the consumer) but the attempts by the E.U. to enforce these noble objectives are being actively frustrated by our Government and HM Revenue and Customs.

Book a day-trip to Calais - Eurotunnel, PO Ferries

Dieppe (from Newhaven) – Transmanche (now operated by DFDS ferries)

Dunkirk – DFDS Ferries

Le Havre – LD Ferries

Caen – Brittany Ferries

Cherbourg – Brittany Ferries / Irish Ferries

Roscoff – Brittany Ferries / Irish Ferries

St. Malo – Brittany Ferries / Condor Ferries

Related site pages

Daytrips pricesFerry pricesSeason tickets

Tips from the Ferry prices survey page – for the Best Value fares

– Take nothing for granted and never assume that just because you have paid a membership fee, you will automatically get the best deal.

– Always shop around. Don't be pressurised into accepting the first fare you are offered.

– If you want the best deal, spend some time on the net trying out different combinations.

– when you phone (we suggest you do as well) say you are looking for the cheapest fare and be flexible.

– Travel clubs DO NOT generally offer the best price. Do not assume that because you have paid a membership fee they will give you the best price.

– Make a note of any promotion codes. Companies like Eurotunnel do not always publicise offers which are sometimes still valid.

– Never book a standard fare unless you intend to stay all day. Most shoppers spend considerably less than 12 hours in France. A 12 hour ticket will cost considerably less than the standard fares the companies push, but which few people actually need.

– If there are more than 5 of you in the car bear in mind that Eurotunnel offers fares for cars with up to 9 passengers, and the ferry companies up to 5.

– Sail off peak. It's much cheaper, and when its quiet you can often book a later sailing at the same price. Try a later time first and see if you can get away with it.

– Avoid sites that claim to be the cheapest. This is a marketing view that cannot in our opinion be backed up.

– Use a debit card, as credit cards often attract a fee.

A good internet site

In our opinion, is one which is transparent and easy to use. Whilst it may be slick marketing to push standard (expensive) day trip fares when most customers can make do with a cheaper 12 hour ticket for example, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth to feel you are there to be taken advantage of, rather than value as a customer. Having to provide lots of irrelevant information when you are just looking for a price wastes time. We would like to see an option to get a quotation which avoids the need for registration numbers, or full details. These should only be asked for when you actually book. Having to be pro-active is unhelpful (clicking a Terms and Conditions box for example). A site which obliges you to re-input information every time you go back or try another option, or cannot work out automatically that you will return via Calais when this is the only option available, is inefficient.

Day trip fares with P and O Ferries and Eurotunnel and how they compare with last year

We look at the fares of the two major carriers of day trippers.

The lower fares continue in 2008, mainly due to over capacity on the Dover Calais route. Rising fuel prices are taking their toll though, with slower crossing evident and cancellations.

Daytrip fares in 2008 are much simpler and cheaper than years ago. A daytrip with O Ferries cost £64 in 2001, today you can enjoy a day out for just £20.

In 2001 we had car park shopper fares, Peak and Off Peak daytrips, Afternoon fares as well as the standard tickets. Today the price depends on how busy the ferry is.

Fare type Outward travel times In bound travel times Fares from x Fares to December 2001 fares
Peak Day Trip ** after 8.00am up to 12 hours in France £20.00 £x £49.00
Overnighter Trip ** after 12.00 noon after 6.00am, but before 3.00pm next day £20.00 £x £45.00
Promotional fares
Fare type Outward travel times In bound travel times 2001 Fares
Day Trip (non amendable) Before 8.00pm Before midnight the same day £49.00
Day Trip (amendable) Before 8.00pm Before midnight the same day £69.00
Overnight after 12.00 midday After 6.00am but before 3.00pm next day £49.00
Overnight after 12.00 midday After 6.00am but before 12.00 noon next day £49.00
Afternoon Trip after 12.00 noon Before midnight the same day £39.00
Early Bird Before 7.00am Before midnight the same day Discontinued
Late afternoon trip, Monday to Saturday after 3.00pm Before 1.00am next day £33.00
Evening Trip, Monday to Saturday after 6.00pm Before 2.00am next day £29.00


It's always possible to find a very good value fare – if you are prepared to travel at unusual times. The best deals are available if you travel off peak, and book via the internet.

Day-trip internet survey

Eurotunnel – With a much simpler fare structure in evidence, but fewer trains, the speed of the crossing justifies the higher prices.

PO Ferries – Still the largest company offering the most sailings, PO Ferries also has some of the cheaest fares available.

DFDS Ferries – Regular sailings with the newest fleet, DFDS sails from Dover to Dunkirk

Conclusion – By internet you can save £2.00 – £5.00 per booking. The best deal for regular day-trippers is P and O Ferries if booked via this site.

Useful Outside links

– Check out the latest catalogue / leaflet offers (PDF).

ferry sail drive – Discover Ferries (formerly Sail and Drive), news from the ferry companies.

Ferry news from the Ferry industry magazine.

Ferry news from Ferry Publication magazine.

Ferry news from Lloyds List.


Shipping Forecast – Met Office.

Dover Port Authority.

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