As avid travellers living in our campervan, we’ve been fortunate to explore the beauty of the UK and Europe for a while now, whilst working remotely on the road. One question that always crops up when we speak to other travellers is whether to choose the Eurotunnel or Ferry when crossing the English Channel. Both modes of transport offer unique experiences and both have different aspects that will appeal to different people. This post aims to help you make an informed decision about which mode of travel would be best for you so keep reading to find out more!
About the Eurotunnel
Travelling between the UK and mainland Europe has never been easier, thanks to the marvel of modern engineering known as the Eurotunnel.
The Eurotunnel, sometimes referred to as the Channel Tunnel, is a 31.4-mile tunnel beneath the English Channel’s seabed, linking Folkestone in the UK with Coquelles near Calais in northern France.
Built to sustain heavy traffic, the Eurotunnel can accommodate up to four trains per hour in each direction. The service is split into Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and Eurostar.
While Eurostar caters to passengers, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is designed specifically for vehicles, making it the perfect option for campervan and motorhome owners.
Choosing the Eurotunnel over a ferry crossing has many advantages. One of the significant benefits is the speed.
From terminal to terminal, the journey time is approximately 35 minutes, making it the fastest channel crossing option. It’s a straightforward drive-on, drive-off service with no need to leave your vehicle, offering comfort and convenience for you and your passengers.
Additionally, the Eurotunnel is less affected by adverse weather conditions than ferries, ensuring a more reliable service.
We also think this is the best way to travel to Europe with your pets. Most motorhome and campervan owners travel with pets, simply because it is the best and easiest way to do so.
We love the fact that we drive onto the tunnel, we can stay in our motorhome with our dog and we don’t have to leave her alone in the motorhome as we would if we travelled by ferry.
For us personally, this is one of the main reasons that we choose to travel by Eurotunnel over a ferry.
However, there’s more to the Eurotunnel than just a convenient transportation link.
The terminals on both sides offer a range of facilities, including restaurants, shops, pet exercise areas, and even free Wi-Fi. So whether you want a meal before your journey or need to stock up on essentials, everything is available at your fingertips.
In a nutshell, the Eurotunnel offers a fast, reliable, and convenient crossing option for campervan and motorhome owners, allowing them to make the most of their travel time.
If you’d like to know more about taking your pet to Europe and getting the euro tunnel with them, check out our blog post here – Taking A Dog To France – A Complete Guide 2023
About the Ferry
A classic and popular method of crossing the English Channel is by ferry. The ferry services connect various ports in the UK such as Dover, Portsmouth, and Newhaven, with French ports like Calais, Dieppe, and Le Havre, offering a range of routes to suit your travel plans.
Opting for the ferry has a charm of its own. It provides a more traditional, leisurely, and scenic way to cross the Channel, allowing you to break from driving and step out onto the deck for a breath of fresh sea air. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some marine wildlife, making the crossing an adventure itself.
Ferries are equipped with an array of amenities and conveniences that can enhance your journey. Many ferries offer facilities such as restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a meal or a drink, shops for a spot of retail therapy, and even play areas if you’re travelling with children.
Some larger ferries even provide cabins or seating areas where you can rest or catch some sleep during the crossing.
For motorhome owners, ferries can accommodate vehicles of various sizes. You’ll need to make sure you secure everything in your motorhome before the journey, as you won’t be able to access your vehicle during the crossing. Once on board, you can relax, stretch your legs, and enjoy the journey.
Journey times vary depending on the chosen route, with crossings ranging from 90 minutes to several hours. While this is longer than the Eurotunnel, many travellers appreciate the break from driving, using the opportunity to relax and take in the sea views.
As we mentioned above, if you’re travelling with pets, you will need to consider if the ferry will work for you. If your ferry crossing is a long one, you may need to book a cabin that allows pets, and some ferry companies won’t allow pets at all, so this is something you will need to research.
Booking a cabin that allows pets can be costly and also can be very popular meaning there can sometimes be a long wait time to even get one.
Comparing the Eurotunnel and Ferry
Deciding whether to take the Eurotunnel or a ferry for your English Channel crossing largely comes down to your personal preferences and specific needs for the journey. Here’s an in-depth comparison based on critical factors that most travellers consider: cost, convenience, time efficiency, and overall experience.
When comparing the Eurotunnel and ferry, cost is usually a significant deciding factor. Prices can vary greatly depending on the time of year, day of the week, and how far in advance you book.
Generally, the Eurotunnel can be more expensive than ferry services. However, it’s worth considering the value it provides in terms of speed, convenience, and reliability. By reducing travel time, you might save on other costs, such as food and overnight accommodation.
Ferry prices are often lower, and there are usually more opportunities to find deals or lower fares, especially if you’re flexible with your travel dates and times. Remember to factor in the added value of the onboard amenities and the leisurely pace, which might enhance your overall travel experience.
The Eurotunnel scores high on convenience. You simply drive onto the train, stay in your vehicle during the short crossing, and then drive off at the other end. It’s quick and hassle-free, with no need to worry about securing your belongings or leaving your pets in the vehicle.
Ferries, on the other hand, require passengers to leave their vehicles during the crossing. This means securing everything in your motorhome before the journey. However, once on board, you can move around freely, eat, shop, or simply enjoy the view, which can be a pleasant break from driving.
Time is another essential factor to consider. The Eurotunnel is the fastest way to cross the Channel, with a journey time of just 35 minutes. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re keen to reach your destination quickly or if you’re on a tight schedule.
Ferries, however, take longer. Depending on the route, a crossing can take anywhere from 90 minutes to several hours. For those not in a rush, this slower pace can be part of the adventure, offering a chance to relax and enjoy the onboard facilities.
If you’re looking for a unique travel experience, both the Eurotunnel and ferry deliver in their own ways. The Eurotunnel offers the thrill of travelling under the sea at high speed, which is quite an experience in itself.
The ferry offers a more traditional and relaxed travel experience. Standing on the deck, feeling the sea breeze, and watching the coastline gradually approach offers a sense of adventure that’s hard to match.
The choice between the Eurotunnel and ferry will depend on what you value more: speed and convenience or cost and experience. Both options provide unique advantages and contribute to making your travel journey memorable.
The Eurotunnel: In-depth Review
The Eurotunnel is one of the world’s leading transport systems, having been in operation since 1994. Let’s take a deeper dive into what the Eurotunnel has to offer.
Ease of Use
The ease of using the Eurotunnel begins from the booking process. You can book your trip online or via their mobile app. Once you arrive at the terminal, it’s a simple process of checking in and waiting for your assigned shuttle. The terminals offer a range of facilities for your convenience, from restaurants and shops to pet-friendly areas.
We love the pet exercise area that they have which allows your pet to get some exercise before your tunnel crossing, it really feels like the Eurotunnel try to make the crossing experience as easy and comfortable as possible.
Driving onto the shuttle is straightforward, with clear instructions and helpful staff. The shuttles are designed to accommodate various vehicles, including cars, motorhomes, and campervans. The beauty of the Eurotunnel is that you stay with your vehicle throughout the crossing, making it a convenient option if you’re travelling with pets or have plenty of belongings.
Speed and Efficiency
The Eurotunnel shines when it comes to speed and efficiency. The actual travel time from terminal to terminal is just 35 minutes. There are up to four departures per hour during peak times, ensuring a smooth flow of traffic and reducing wait times. The frequency of the shuttle service means you have flexibility in your travel schedule, allowing for last-minute changes or delays.
The Eurotunnel’s operations are less affected by weather conditions compared to ferries. This ensures a higher level of reliability and punctuality. Even in adverse weather, the Eurotunnel can continue operations, making it a more predictable choice for your travel plans.
While the Eurotunnel journey is short, the emphasis on passenger comfort is not compromised. The carriages are well ventilated, and there’s enough space to get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs during the crossing. Also, you don’t have to worry about seasickness, which can be an issue on ferry crossings.
The Eurotunnel is a more eco-friendly option for crossing the Channel. Travelling by shuttle emits up to 90% less CO2 per passenger than a flight between London and Paris. If you’re conscious about reducing your carbon footprint, the Eurotunnel is an excellent choice.
In conclusion, the Eurotunnel presents a seamless, efficient, and reliable mode of transportation. It combines the best of speed, convenience, and environmental responsibility, making it a solid choice for your travel needs.
The Ferry: In-depth Review
Ferry crossings have long been a traditional and popular means of transport across the English Channel. Let’s delve into the ferry experience and what it has to offer.
Ease of Use
Booking a ferry is typically an easy process that can be done online. There are numerous ferry companies to choose from, each offering various routes between the UK and mainland Europe. The wide range of choices allows you to select the most suitable journey according to your schedule and destination.
On arrival at the port, you’ll find signs directing you to the correct lane for your sailing. Once it’s time to board, staff will guide you onto the ferry. Although you’ll have to leave your vehicle during the crossing, you can bring your essentials with you to the passenger decks.
One of the unique selling points of ferry travel is the onboard experience. Most ferries offer a range of facilities, from restaurants and cafes to shops and entertainment. Some larger ferries even feature comfortable seating areas or cabins, and play areas if you’re travelling with children.
Standing on the deck and watching the world go by can be a tranquil and enjoyable experience. It’s a chance to stretch your legs, breathe in the fresh sea air, and break the monotony of a long drive.
Ferry crossings are significantly longer than the Eurotunnel, with journey times ranging from 90 minutes to several hours depending on the route. While this might be a disadvantage for those in a rush, it can be an advantage for those seeking a slower, more relaxed pace of travel. The additional time provides an opportunity to rest, dine, or simply enjoy the journey.
Ferries offer flexibility in terms of routes and schedules. There are numerous crossings throughout the day and night, making it possible to find a sailing that fits perfectly with your travel plans. Different routes can also provide you with a range of destinations to explore.
Ferries can sometimes be affected by adverse weather conditions, which can lead to delays or cancellations. However, modern ferries are designed to cope with a range of sea conditions, and instances of severe disruption are relatively rare.
In conclusion, ferry travel offers a unique experience combining leisure, flexibility, and scenic views. If you’re not in a rush and enjoy the romance of sea travel, a ferry crossing could be the perfect start to your European adventure.
Travelling Tips: Eurotunnel and Ferry
Whether you’re planning on taking the Eurotunnel or the ferry for your Channel crossing, preparation is key. Here are some essential travel tips to help you get the most out of your journey:
Book in Advance
This applies to both the Eurotunnel and ferries. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to secure the best prices and preferred departure times.
Check Your Vehicle
Ensure your vehicle is in good working condition before the journey. Check your tyres, oil levels, and ensure all your lights are functioning correctly. For motorhomes or campervans, secure any loose items inside to prevent them from moving around during the crossing.
For both the Eurotunnel and ferries, it’s recommended to arrive at least 45 minutes before your scheduled departure time. This allows you ample time for check-in and boarding procedures.
Keep a bag with your essentials accessible, especially for the ferry crossing where you have to leave your vehicle. This might include snacks, water, travel documents, and any necessary medication.
Ensure you have all necessary travel documents, including passports, driving license, and vehicle documents. It’s also a good idea to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for your destination.
If you’re travelling with pets, check the pet travel requirements for your chosen service. The Eurotunnel and some ferry companies offer dedicated pet-friendly facilities, but it’s essential to check these details before you travel.
Keep an eye on the travel updates from your service provider. Conditions can change quickly, especially in terms of weather for ferry crossings, so it’s essential to stay informed.
In conclusion, a successful journey across the Channel, be it by Eurotunnel or ferry, requires careful planning and preparation. These travel tips should help you ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
Conclusion – Eurotunnel or Ferry?
Choosing between the Eurotunnel and a ferry for your cross-channel journey hinges on your personal travel preferences, the specifics of your trip, and what you value most in your travel experience.
The Eurotunnel offers unparalleled speed, efficiency, and reliability. It’s an excellent choice for those who prioritize convenience, time-savings, and prefer to remain with their vehicle throughout the journey. Additionally, its resistance to adverse weather conditions and its eco-friendliness are noteworthy advantages.
On the other hand, the ferry offers a more leisurely and traditional travel experience. The journey might be longer, but it provides an opportunity to relax, enjoy the onboard amenities, and soak in the sea views. Ferries generally offer more affordable options and present you with a variety of routes to different destinations.
The key is to weigh the advantages of each option against your specific needs and desires. Whether you opt for the high-speed Eurotunnel or the more laid-back ferry, both promise a unique travel experience that can enhance the overall enjoyment of your adventure.
Choosing the right mode of transportation is just the beginning of your travel journey. Remember to prepare adequately, arrive early for your crossing, and most importantly, enjoy the ride. After all, travel is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!