Port of Dover chaos: 9 alternative UK ferry ports to use including Newhaven, according to The Times
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With the dust from the travel chaos at the Port of Dover still settling this Easter holiday, UK holidaymakers fear a repeat of last weekend’s delays which saw hundreds of passengers held for up to 14 hours.
Delays have been blamed on Brexit, with French border officials now having to carry out extra checks and stamp UK passports - at an optimistic 30 seconds per passport, it means checks take an average two minutes per family of four. But if you’re in the 45th car in the queue, this could mean you’d have to wait 90 minutes just to pass border control.
Adding to waiting holidaymakers woes, having to wait for hours at the border during the school holiday season means packing enough food to sustain you for hours and toilet paper in case the terminal WCs run out.
However, according to The Times, the simplest method to avoid stressful journeys is to simply change ports. But it might not be entirely plain sailing as immigration procedures will be the same, crossings will be less frequent, sailing durations will be longer, and bear in mind, it may not be as cheap as travelling via Dover either.
If you are keen to give the Dover chaos a miss though, during high season, these are the nine best alternatives, with return fares for a family of four and a car, according to the broadsheet.
9 alternative ports to avoid Dover chaos
To France and Spain
- Newhaven, East Sussex
DFDS operates two daily departures to Dieppe until April 30 and three sailings per day until September 30. The crossing takes four hours, but the lack of complications at both ends of the journey more than compensates. According to DFDS, the return fares are from £174.
French ports served from Portsmouth by Brittany Ferries are Caen, Cherbourg and St Malo, with average sailing times of six, eight, and 11 hours respectively. A return to Caen starts at £548 in mid-July and there are also twice weekly departures to Bilbao and Santander taking between 28 and 33 hours.
- Poole, Dorset
A shorter option for Cherbourg is the four-and-a-half-hour crossing from Poole Harbour, which operates all year around. The ferry departs at 8.30am daily, with summer holiday returns from £531.
Brittany Ferries sails to the Finistere port of Roscoff from Plymouth but, more importantly, the line can get you to Santander, about two hours from Picos de Europa, in 20 hours overnight. With two sailings per week, the ships to Santander fill fast, so book early and expect to pay £1,122 return.
To The Netherlands
- Harwich, Essex
Stena Line sails twice daily from Harwich to Hook of Holland, a six to eight-hour journey that is more fun when done overnight because the rules say you have to book a cabin. Summer holiday return fares start at £710 with a family-sized cabin there and back.
DFDS operates seven crossings a week from Newcastle to Amsterdam, sailing 275 miles in about 16 hours 45 minutes. Cabins are mandatory and expensive, starting at £323 for a four-berth room on the way out, on July 15, and £442 on the way back the following Saturday, which could see a family of four travelling in July pay up to £1,819 for return crossings. A better option is to drive to Harwich and take the Stena.
- Holyhead, Anglesey
Stena and Irish Ferries sail to Dublin from Holyhead. The Dublin Swift reaches Ireland in two hours, but also offers great rail-ferry options, with tickets to Dublin from more than 2,400 UK railway stations from £43.50 each way. A family cruise costs from £557 including cabins.
- Pembroke, Pembrokeshire
If you’re heading to Munster, the sailing from Pembroke Dock is ideal, dropping you at Rosslare on Ireland’s southeastern corner in just over four hours. Irish Ferries offers two sailings per day: one at 2.45am and another at a more civilised 2.45pm. A new ship, Oscar Wilde, will service the route from June. Fares from £541.
- Cairnryan, Dumfries and Golloway
Three hours from Edinburgh, two from Glasgow and just up the road from Stranraer, Cairnryan is the starting point for the two-hour 15 minutes crossing to Belfast, with no passport control to slow things down, with fares from £386.