Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cut price ferry tickets to France

As I blogged back in November, December and earlier this month, following the demise of SpeedFerries I'm having to look for other travel options to enjoy a holiday in our French Holiday Home.

For once we've got ourselves organised this year and have booked ourselves in for a two week stay at Easter and then a three week August summer holiday. In 2008 what with moving house and a difficult project at work we only went over to the Gite as a family once, at Easter, so it'll be lovely to take more time off and relax a bit more.

For Easter I've booked an outward crossing with Condor Ferries from Poole to St Malo which gives us a few hours stop-off enroute in Jersey (which I've never been to), and then a quick hour-and-a-bit drive at the other side from St Malo to the Gite. We're returning back through Dieppe with LD Lines, so it's a bit of a longer drive, but it's some £70 cheaper and is overall probably slightly quicker too.

I've been trying to decide which route to take for August and as we intend to take our dog Dexter with us, and as Liz gets really stressed out with the thought of him "all alone" in the car, it's better if we take one of the shorter crossings.

As luck would have it I've received a couple of emails special offers in the last few days so the choice (and cost) has been made a bit easier.

First arriving in my mailbox was LD Lines who are promoting their new Dover Boulogne route with single journey crossings costing from just £24. I noticed that that the email was sent to the email address I've used previously for SpeedFerries, and in the LD Lines email they explained that they've bought up the SpeedFerries customer contact list from the company administrators.

LDLines have also managed to bring the start of their new Dover/Boulogne service forward, originally it was due to commence in July 2009, now it starts on 12th February.

For the three week period I wanted in August the cost of a Saturday to Saturday return crossing came in with LDLines at £79. To this I'll have to pay roughly £40 of fuel and £15 of tolls each way, so at £189 total cost it still compares extremely favourably with the £400-500 cost that I'd have to pay with Brittany Ferries for the shorter western channel routes. Don't get me wrong, the BF boats are lovely, spacious, and with good onboard facilities, and the shorter drive is nice too, but it's still an awfully large price premium to pay.

Next I took a look at the same August dates with Norfolk Line from Dover to Dunkerque.

Depending on what time of day I travel at single tickets range from £17.50 (for a silly o'clock in the morning) through £29 and up to a maximum of £42. In the past I've noticed a slight saving by buying two single tickets with NL as the return sailing from France is priced in Euros (and the prices can vary during the day), so maybe I can save a few quid, but as it's another half hour drive up the coastal motorway to Dunkerque there's probably not much difference in cost overall when compared to LDLines.

And then I received an email from Just for good measure I received the email twice, one that was sent direct to me from FerryCheap, and one that was sent through the email address I've used with SpeedFerries (so looks like Ferrycheap have also bought up the SpeedFerries customer contact database).

FerryCheap are running a NorfolkLine special offer of a car with 4 passengers on their Dover-Dunkirk route for any date up to 17th December 2009.

There's just two different ticket prices:
  High Season (3rd-19th April and 17th July-6th September) - £29 each way
  Low Season (any other dates) - £19 each way

And all tickets are fully flexible with no amendment fees so you can change your booking any time you want - as long as there's space on the boat of course!

Only other condition of this special offer is that you must book your crossings by 18 February 2009.

So we'll be NorfolkLining it in August methinks.

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