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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable