Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ferry pricing peculiarities

I'm off to our Brittany Holiday Gite next week, a combination of using up my remaining holiday allowance from work and taking the opportunity to go and do some more work. I've an accumulation of things to take over to the Gite since we were last over there in August 2012 and so by going it'll clear up some space in the garage as well.

Some of the ferry companies (notably Brittany Ferries and LD Lines) are running a lesser service with not all routes running and a service not being run every day, and having had a quick look at their sites I didn't find any crossings I fancied.

So it was down to the shorter Dover/Calais or Dover/Dunkerque routes with P&O, DFDS (Norfolk Line as was), and newcomer MyFerryLink who took over the SeaFrance boats in late summer last year.

I wanted to go out early on Saturday morning so I could drive down through France during the day and call in at Leroy Merlin to buy some 2-core 6mm mains cable for the oven in our slowly-being-converted-second-Gite, and then return back on Friday night late so we didn't have to rush out of the Gite and we'd be back home in time for youngest son Jack's birthday party on the Saturday.

P&O's service in February is roughly once an hour, and I quite fancied going out on one of their new massive €360m super-ferries, now named Spirit of Britain and Spirit of France after they were forced to withdraw from cashing in on the Olympic theme with the originally chosen names of Olympic Spirit and Olympic Pride.
P&O wanted £82 for the return crossing (£45 outbound and £37 return), but with a £4 supplement if I used a credit card.

Next up I tried DFDS who are now sharing boats with LD Lines and are sailing again about every hour, but two out of every 3 boats go to Dunkerque rather than Calais. It doesn't makea lot of difference but Dunkerque is a slightly longer crossing and slightly further autoroute drive, so a Calais crossing is preferable.
Unfortunately at the time I wanted to go DFDS were operating only a Dunkerque sailing, and wanted a slightly cheaper £74 for the return journey (£39 out and £35 return) with the option to pay by paypal for no credit card fees.

Last up was MyFerryLink who with only two boats (Rodin and Berlioz) are running the smallest number of crossings, only 5 crossings each way each day between Dover and Calais.
MyFerryLink offered to take me for £69 return (£34 out and £35 return) with no credit card surcharges.

Remember all these crossings were on the same dates and as near as I could get the same time of day, so it shows the value of shopping around.

In the end I decided that the MFL outbound sailing and the DFDS inbound sailing offered the best timings for me and it was with some trepidation I searched for the single journey prices.

Sometimes you find that the return prices are much cheaper than the single prices, especially if the return journey is completed with a certain number of days and I have heard that it can even be cheaper to buy a return and not use the return ticket although I've always been to scared that the ferry company would then surcharge the full single ticket price if I misused the return ticket in this way.

Anyway, it wasn't a problem this time, My Ferry Link's single ticket price to Calais was still £34 with no surcharges so job done, ferry booked.

DFDS however did surprise me. The return journey was coming out at £74 (made up of £39 for the outward leg and £35 for the return leg from France), but when I went to book just a single ticket from Calais to Dover they only wanted £33 to take me one way ! Why it should cost £2 more to sail on the same boat for a return journey instead of a single, I don't know, but I'm happy to have made the saving, and the all-in price came out at a very respectable £67 for the two ferry trips.

How peculiar !

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  • It doesn't makea lot of difference but Dunkerque is a slightly longer crossing and slightly further autoroute drive, so a Calais crossing is preferable.
    dunkerque dover

    By Blogger Nacho1212, at April 08, 2013  

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