A Guide to Booking Dover France Ferries


Millions of passengers pass through the port of Dover each year travelling to or returning from France. It offers the shortest and most convenient ferry crossings to France from the UK with sailings every 30 minutes at the height of the holiday season.

If you’re thinking of travelling to France and crossing the Channel by ferry from Dover there are a number of considerations to take into account. Which ferry operator do you use? Do you cross to Calais or Dunkirk? How do you get the best deal? Hopefully, we can point you in the right direction.

Dover to Calais or to Dunkirk?
Whilst Dover to Calais is the shortest and quickest ferry route to France at just an hour and a half, the crossing to Dunkirk doesn’t take much longer and offers an alternative destination which may be more convenient. Arriving in Calais puts you in a good position for travelling on to Paris and surrounding areas whilst Dunkirk is ideal if you are driving to Belgium. If you’re not too worried about which port to use for landing in France, it’s worth comparing the fares for the time when you are planning to travel.

Which ferry operators sail out of Dover?
Both P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways operate out of Dover. During peak season, P&O operates up to 23 sailings a day to Calais whilst DFDS has up to 10 sailings a day to Calais and 12 to Dunkirk.

Some websites suggest a third operator, My Ferry Link, also sails out of Dover. However, My Ferry Link stopped operating on July 1st this year.

How do I find out fares and sailing times from Dover to France?
A good place to start is on the company websites for P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways. They will list the current daily timetable for their routes and should also give information about sailings at other times of the year.

If you want a fare quote you will need to complete one of the booking forms, giving information about your travel plans. You will need to choose a date and time for your sailing and state how many passengers will be in your vehicle. You will also need some information about your car such as the make and model and whether you will have a roof box or trailer.

How do I book my Dover France ferry crossing?
You can book your crossing online using your chosen ferry operator’s website or on one of the many booking agents’ websites such as Direct Ferries or Ferry Saver. The websites for the ferry booking agents have the advantage that you can compare fares directly for the two ferry operators.

How can I get the best deal?
Using a price comparison website such as travelsupermarket.com or a website for a ferry booking agent will enable you to compare fares directly between the two operators sailing between Dover and France. You may find that it varies which operator is cheaper depending on the sailing time.

If you’re able to avoid travelling at peak times such as school holidays and weekends you should be able to get better value fares. Also, sailings at less convenient times such as early in the morning or late at night are likely to be cheaper. However, if the cheaper sailing times are likely to mean a hotel stay en route you need to compare the costs as it may be more cost effective to choose a more expensive but more convenient sailing time and avoid an overnight stay.

Booking your tickets as early as possible should get you a cheaper fare. Dover to France ferry tickets usually go on sale up to a year in advance and the price tends to go up as the departure date gets closer.

Is there anything else I need to think about?
If you’re travelling with children or have any other special requirements it’s worth checking on the ferry operator’s website to see what on board facilities are available. If you’re not sure about something, give the ferry operator a call and talk through your requirements. If you’ve got a long journey ahead of you consider booking a reclining seat or access to a club lounge so you can get some rest.

Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your ticket. Many ferry tickets are non-refundable so if you have to change your sailing time or cancel altogether, you won’t get any money back for the ticket you can’t use. If you think you may end up having to change your ticket it may be worth paying a bit more for a flexible fare.