Bargain of the week: Channel crossfire

The price war on the short sea links from Dover and Folkestone to France is set to continue, even through the summer peak. We checked "peak-of-peak" sailings: four people in a normal car travelling out around noon on Saturday 29 July and returning a fortnight later.

The lowest fare was £128 return on SpeedFerries (0870 220 0570; from Dover to Boulogne. The two leading ferry operators were almost identical: P&O Ferries (08706 009 009; at £170; and SeaFrance (08705 711 711; at £175. Yet anyone who joins the Youth Hostels Association (annual membership £15.95, on 0870 870 8808 or gets a reduction of 20 per cent on SeaFrance ferries, reducing the fare to £140.

Eurotunnel (08705 35 35 35; quoted £182 from Folkestone to Calais. Most expensive was, surprisingly, the few-frills Norfolkline (0870 870 1020;, which quoted £219 return from Dover to Dunkirk.

Debbie Chisholm

Warning of the week: Amsterdam airport

The Foreign Office has taken the exceptional step of warning passengers about facilities at one of Europe's leading airports. The latest travel advice for the Netherlands says that all low-cost airlines at Amsterdam Schiphol airport are handled at the new "H" Pier, "a brand-new building with no retail or catering facilities and only a limited number of toilets," specifies the FCO. Once through security and passport control, you face a long walk and must descend stairs to the departure area. "Elderly and infirm passengers, or those travelling with young children, may wish to bear this in mind."

Destination of the week: New Orleans

Words and pictures could win you a trip to the Mardi Gras in Louisiana's largest city. Rough Guides is compiling a new book called World Party, and is seeking great stories about party and festival exploits around the world - from Rio's samba schools to India's Kumbh Mela to the Burning Man in Nevada. For details on entering, see

Simon Calder