Wednesday 18 June 2008

P&O Ferries, Dover to Calais

Not the fastest way to cross the English Channel, but can be fun. Check-in, passport control and security are faster than at Heathrow, but still take at least half an hour. On board, you are compensated on a sunny day with great views of the striking White Cliffs of Dover as you chug out of the harbour and miles of golden sand as you arrive in Calais. Below deck, you can jostle with the motley assortment of backpackers, lorry drivers, coach passengers and families for something to eat or somewhere to sit. For £22 you can get two adults and two children a main course and a desert in the canteen, but don't expect a lot of meat in the chicken curry or much in the way of vitamins. Alternatively, you can wind away the 90-minute crossing by browsing through the shop, drinking Costa coffee, watching cartoons in the kids' lounge or playing arcade games, but try to avoid using the sometimes filthy toilets. Remember to purchase all the paraphernalia you need for driving on the continent, such as a first aid kit and red warning triangle, if you haven't got it already. Assuming you aren't in a hurry, P&O is good value at about £100 return for a family and a car. 6/10