Shipping forecast: patchy

Ferry services are to be slimmed this Christmas. Why? By Simon Calder

"FOG IN Channel - Continent cut off." The famous headline looks like coming at least partly true over Christmas and the New Year. The cross-Channel companies are cutting back sharply over the festive season. Normally the waters between England and France teem with ferries. But anyone hoping to celebrate Christmas Day or the arrival of 2000 with a cruise across the Channel must think again - on 25 December itself, only Eurotunnel is running, and even that service stops over the New Year holiday.

"FOG IN Channel - Continent cut off." The famous headline looks like coming at least partly true over Christmas and the New Year. The cross-Channel companies are cutting back sharply over the festive season. Normally the waters between England and France teem with ferries. But anyone hoping to celebrate Christmas Day or the arrival of 2000 with a cruise across the Channel must think again - on 25 December itself, only Eurotunnel is running, and even that service stops over the New Year holiday.

Millennium Bug fears are not to blame, say the cross-Channel companies. They cite lack of demand, and the wish to give staff time off. This exclusive survey reveals the chances for a festive crossing, listed from west to east.

Brittany Ferries (0990 360 360): only one service inbound from France on 24 December (8am from Caen to Portsmouth) and only evening departures on Boxing Day. But Brittany Ferries has the one passenger vessel sailing in the Channel on Christmas Day itself: an evening ferry from Portsmouth on 24 December arrives in St Malo at 8am on Christmas morning. On 31 December the only departures are 8.30am from Poole to Cherbourg and 7.45am from Portsmouth to Caen; no sailings on 1 January.

P&O Portsmouth (0870 24 24 999): the company packs up for Christmas earlier than any other, with no outbound services on 24 or 25 December; the last pre-Christmas arrivals from Le Havre and Cherbourg are at lunchtime on Christmas Eve. Most sailings restart late on Boxing Day. For those who want to spend Christmas all at sea, though, the operator is running a Portsmouth-Bilbao-Portsmouth service that straddles Christmas. The return journey of the Pride of Bilbao sails from the Spanish port on 24 December. Christmas Day is spent traversing the Bay of Biscay before arriving, on 26 December, at Portsmouth. A mini-break costs £65. You can't try the same stunt over New Year, though, as the vessel has been chartered for a trip to the Meridian Line in Greenwich.

There are no sailings at all to France on New Year's Eve, nor 1 January. Lucky crew.

Hoverspeed (08705 240 241): from Newhaven to Dieppe, the only Christmas Eve sailing is at 8.30am, returning from France at 1.30pm. The final Folkestone to Boulogne sailing is at 3pm, Dover to Calais goes an hour later, with the returns from France around 6pm.

The next departures are at 7.30-8.30am on Boxing Day - except for Folkestone-Boulogne, which stops throughout Christmas and the New Year. With a single morning departure to Dieppe on 31 December, and the last Dover-Calais sailing at 4pm that day, that's the last you'll see of Hoverspeed until 2 January - the company takes New Year's Day off.

SeaFrance (0990 711 711): its last Dover-Calais runs are late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, restarting around 8am on Boxing Day. The same pattern is repeated on 31 December and 1 January, with the neat twist that every passenger, and vehicle, will travel free on New Year's Day (see story, right).

P&O Stena Line (0990 980 980) winds down early on Christmas Eve, with the last Dover-Calais sailing at 3.15pm and the final inbound service at 6.30pm. Nothing is sailing on Christmas Day. On 26 December, the first ferry leaves Dover at 7.45am, and the first one back from Calais is at 11am.

For 31 December, the last outbound ship sails from Dover at 4pm, with the last inbound service at 7.15pm. On New Year's Day, the first trip from Dover is at 8.15am and from Calais at 11.30am

Eurotunnel (0990 353 535): the fixed link from Folkestone to Calais has departures around the clock on 25 December, with an hourly service all day and night. Over New Year, though, the company is taking a break from around 10pm to 7am.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea