I stopped using P & O and Sea France back in 2005, as I don't live in England and needed to get back there in a hurry due to a family illness, my Family and I used Sea France from Calais to Dover and had a horrendous crossing with them, our return journey was with P & O which was full with rampaging teenagers going on a school trip, the teachers and parents accompanying them were to be found in one of the bars while the kids were left to do what they liked, the next time we had to return to England we used Norfolk line ferries (which is now DFDS) from Dunkirk to Dover, no coaches allowed only Lorries and cars with passengers, the food was far superior, the boat was clean staff helpful and although it was a 2 hour crossing has to be by far the best crossing my Family and I have ever had, (I have been crossing the channel for 50 years) I would recommend to anyone the DFDS channel ferry crossing it's cheaper too, we have recently used DFDS at the beginning of December 2011 and still the same high class and quality, you can upgrade to first class, pay alittle more, but you are first on first off, no children under 12 years allowed in this area and the staff are the best.
Between Seafrance & P&O I would choose Seafrance everytime even though the prices are sometimes higher. I'm a regular ferry traveler. To be brutally honest, P&O seems to generally have a lower class of people on board. Furthermore, the company seems to be concerned more with gambling machines and selling rubbish junk food than actually providing a good service. I always find the food on Seafrance really good (okay the variety could be better) and the service second to none. I have had to amend a few times before boarding and have been asked to pay. Now I just go straight on. I've never had a problem
Crossed the channel recently on a saturday night on board a Sea France ferry. I have used them before and never been overly impressed but this was something else. In particular the service in the restaurant was appalling. At 9.30 at night the only dish available was sausage & chips, absoutely nothing else. And for a plate of really poor quality food plus a small glass of very ordinary red wine I paid something around £12. even paying for it was a hassle. Lots of people queuing up with their sausage and chips and just one till open so that by the time you get the food to the table it is stone cold.
The toilets were quite disgusting, overflowing, not flushing, foul smelling, just awful. I complained about this at the information desk and the only way the woman could have been less interested was if she had been asleep.
Take my advice, go by some other company, fly , take Eurostar or if no other choice just swim - it'll be more pleasant than going by Sea France.
When we turn up at the port early for the ferry we booked and the ferry before had not left yet we were invited to pay a £10 additional admin fee to get on the still boarding earlier ferry. This was despite the fact the later ferry we had a booking reference and had already paid for was £10 dearer. They made no offer to offset the admin fee with the price difference we had already paid them.
Isn't it about time these ferry companies began to realize that it is actually in their own interests to ship out as many passengers as they can as quickly as they can, this then leaves them with potentially re-sellable un-used ferry space (in some cases, as would have been with us, at a higher crossing price than the ferry they would be putting you on) later in the day.
But it would seem ferry companies would want everything to their own advantage, wouldn't it to eek every last penny out of the cross channel traveler they can. Think back to the very very high prices they were taking advantage of for stranded passengers with no alternative during the volcanic cloud disruption early in 2010.
Add to this some very sub-standard coffee onboard which seafrance themselves have admitted to me in writing of having had many complaints about yet they had to the time of our crossing done nothing about to ensure for £1.75 they could give me a cup of coffee that actually tasted like coffee.
Also on our crossing what we would consider the most comfortable and pleasant public area of the ship (their rodin) was closed up with nothing to advise us of restricted facilities at our point of booking despite this crossing being one of their highest tariffs for the day.
My summary for seafrance would be they do not seem to be interested in their passengers, choose someone else to travel with. Speedferries were certainly a real loss to the travelling public.
I traveled on the seafrance rodin on 29 Dec ordered 2 cups of cuppuccino which tasted purely of dishwater with a bit of foam on top. Formally complained on board and the staff themselves agreed the coffee was rubbish. Have had email from seafrance in response to the complaint where they admit there have been lots of complaints about the coffee on their ships and they say they have supposedly been trying to improve purchasing at Calais.
Meantime they have been more than happy to sell me and many other passengers something they describe as coffee but tastes of nothing like coffee for a whopping £1.75 a cup!!
Boycott this rubbish they serve if you have any sense or tastebuds, do not allow this lot to fob their customers off with something they know is sub-standard but are only too willing to charge a premium price for.
If you do foolishly ignore this advice and go to their shipboard bars to have what you think will be a satisfying drink for the crossing then end up with something that tastes nothing more than warm water complain, demand your money back and don't let them get away with taking your hard earned money for something that in no way resembles what it is described as.
We booked with Seafrance in October this year. Despite turning up on time (just - no thanks to the queue at the entrance to the port), they put us on the next ferry because they couldn't be bothered to load us on the one that was in dock. Despite being with a group of friends who had been there for three hours and did get on the ferry, we had to sit there and watch the boat finish loading leaving us on the dockside for another 3 hours because they couldn't be bothred to find space for one more.WHAT RUBBISH SERVICE!
Travelled Dover Calais and return recently with SeaFrance. OK on the way out. Loading arrangements seemed a touch chaotic (person directing seemed very annoyed that people weren't able to guess that they had to do a U turn from the queues to find the ferry loading ramp) but that may be the port's issue.
Didn't try food as nothing looked appetising. It's a shame that a French company can't distinguish itself in this area. Generally OK however.
On the way back we were slightly late arriving due to car trouble. Whilst we queued behind a car clearly having some issues with paperwork others arrived in other queues and went through. By the time we moved forward they said we were too late and had to wait 3 hours. I don't have a problem with there being a cut-off but it was obvious to the staff that we had been waiting longer than others who had been sent through.
But we took that one on the chin as it was mostly our fault. What was unforgiveable however was the state of the 23.00 ferry. All the restaurants were closed except for minimal snacks in the bar. We could have actually made do but they didn't just close the food serving areas but also closed off the whole restaurant areas. This meant that despite a far from busy ferry there was nowhere to sit.
This is stupid, inconsiderate to their passengers and in my view unforgiveable. A sure sign of a company that couldn't give a (CENSORED).
I thought I'd give them a go, but will be back to one of the other ferries or more likely the train next time.
I've been on Sea France ferries a few times now, and, lucky for me, its service is always consistent.
Last weekend, me and my partner decided to go on an impulsive day trip to France, so late Saturday night, we booked returned ferry tickets to Calais from Dover.
Booking the tickets was, in itself, a little bit of a nightmare if you take into account how many different companies are trying to sell you tickets for the same ferry, some more expensive than others, and often you have to fill out a form and then it'll tell you how much, so it can be time consuming if you're wanting to shop around.
After looking at a few different sites, we found one (I can't remember what it was) that had foot passenger tickets as £6 each, which was cheaper even than the Sea France website.
The next morning, we had a two hour drive from our town to Dover, but once we arrived in Dover all our tiredness was completely forgotten, as we remembered and saw the beautiful white cliffs of Dover, and the massive ferries we were about to get onto.
We arrived at check-in only to be told we literally just got there in time as they were boarding the bus right then to take passengers to the ferry. We raced outside to the Sea France bus, they checked out tickets and we got on. This took a matter of 3 minutes, so there wasn't any waiting around.
The bus then drove up the port, so we were nearer, then dropped us off near the ferry we could get on. One thing I should mention here is that there are either a lot of stairs, or a lot of ramps = lots of walking. There were lifts but it said they were for disabled folk, so be prepared for all this walking if you come to Dover (and Calais too!).
Once on board the ferry, we waited up on until we left. As usual, the ferry left dead on time, meaning none of our precious time in France would have be taken from us (just make sure you don't turn up late like we almost did!). The operation was quick tight in making sure everyone got on and off and everyone was on time, which is a good thing.
On board, we decided to check out the food. This is one bad thing - it is expensive. And the prices were in euros so, if you're not a walking currency converter, you won't know exactly what your paying in £s. I chose a portion of chips for 2 euros (I didn't think that was too extravagant) whilst my boyfriend chose lasagne for 8 euros (ouch!). They don't take debit cards on board, so make sure you have a credit card or are prepared to pay in cash (they take euros or pounds).
The food was good though, so apart from the price, no complaining there.
There is a gift shop on board, but this was also fairly expensive so we didn't spend very much. They sold lots of wine and ciggarettes, but because of the no duty free thing anymore you could easily get them for that price in this country!
We spent most of our journey sitting out on deck watching the sea, which was a beautiful site. There were loads of places to sit inside the ferry too, all of which looked themed, and very beautifully decorated. It was clearly well taken care of, and cleaned lots.
When we arrived in Calais, it took a while for them to get us off the ferry, but once we stepped off, that was that. Simply. A bus took us to the arrivals bit so we could get out the port and into Calais, and it was all very easy and simple.
One way of getting across the English Channel is to swim. People have done it, you know? You'll need to grease your body to keep the cold out; have a boat tracking you juuuuust in case and, of course, a penchant for swimming 22+ miles. Alternatively, you could try a Ferry, which is just what we did to get to our holiday destination of France a couple of weeks ago. The channel crossing market's been complicated in recent years with the addition of the Channel Tunnel (or La Manche if you stand at the top of *English castles in full battle gear hurling insults like "You Eengleesh pig dog.."). After all, rather than have hundreds of fathoms of water below you, why not feel comfortable in having hundreds of fathoms above you instead? It was a difficult choice between choosing ferry or tunnel. Strangely, I didn't really consider hovercraft considering it outmoded (probably wrongly). Of the ferry operators, it seemed to be either SeaFrance or P&O. We opted for Sea France based on cost. A return trip in August for the days we wanted to travel panned out at £48 for both SeaFrance and Hoverspeed, £88 for P&O whilst the Channel Tunnel proved the most expensive at £93. The main difference seemed to be in frequency of crossings and speed. Channel Tunnel was every 35 mins taking around that time for a journey, P&O was every 75-90 mins whist Sea France was every 90 mins with both taking around 90 mins for a crossing and the Hoverspeed option running every 2 hours but with a journey time of an hour. The gain in time saved seemed to be minimal so cost proved decisive. The booking was including with our overall Haven holiday booking made by telephone. Having chosen our **"chariot" here's how we fared with SeaFrance: ---Company Background--- By way of introduction - the cross-Channel route was established in 1841 in order to maintain the link between the British and continental rail networks. Managed
by SNCF until 1990, SeaFrance was launched on 1st January 1996 following the end of the pooling agreement between Sealink and SNAT. In the same year, SeaFrance Ltd. was established responsible for the new service in the UK as well as port operations in Dover. SeaFrance has extended its sales operation throughout Europe including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. ---Board yet?--- Having sussed out where to board the ferry on our way past the Eastern Docks in Dover the previous day, we duly drove to the ferry port on a cloudy Monday morning. I was a little apprehensive with it being my first experience of car ferry travel. Having tentatively driven through the passport check in point, I must have had beads of sweat pouring from my brow as we got diverted by customs for a quick spot check. An officious man made me roll my window down as he fired questions at me including "Had I any guns or any imitation or toy guns?" I resisted the urge to confess that I was smuggling a couple of Albanians back out of the country, as the experience hadn't worked out as they'd hoped. Having successfully negotiated HM Customs we picked out our lane as designated at check in (there are lots of lanes with lane numbers in which you queue up with you car ready to board in an orderly sequence). The 9.30am crossing from Dover to Calais was running 10 minutes late, of which we were courteously informed by one of the SeaFrance people that were lurking ready to usher cars onto the ferry. The return ferry was also about 10 minutes late leaving which would be a minus point on service. Having watched the various cars and lorries disembark ready to run the gauntlet of HM Customs we simply drove on, got out and left the car heading for the delights of the upper decks. ---Facilities--- There was a bureau de change available to change your hard earned into Euros and the like. The newsagents were
popular with a full range of publications on sale. Hey, I picked up The Sun for a mere 10p! Le Pub was a bar with ample seating that we sat at for most of the outward journey. It had a nice range of alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks available. As my boy and me were rocking with seasickness within a few minutes, I bought 4 500ml cokes which worked out at £4. Most folks sat around drinking, playing cards or just chatting. La Brasserie is a waiter-service restaurant if you want to be waited on. It offers mainly French cuisine and looked pleasant enough on one of my various sorties around the boat. Le Relais is a self-service restaurant, which we used on the return trip for lunch. It's a pick up a tray and slide along job, choosing what you want to eat. We had 2 vegetarian lasagnes, fish & chips, a croissant and 3 cokes for about 25 Euros (about £17). The food was reasonable, as was the price whilst the eating area was pretty clean with small tables in a booth like style available. There was a special offer on of a child under 12 eating free for every adult meal purchased that I totally forgot about! Le Parisien is a French Café bar serving light refreshments, patisseries and coffee if you want to get into European mode and sit there with black hooped vest and a string of onions around your neck (can't beat a bit of stereo-typing). There is an amusement arcade on board although both my daughter & myself lost an Euro each in machines that didn't work! There is the obligatory shop selling cigarettes, drink, toys, perfumes and so on. I'll pick up on the duty free situation below. Toilets - hmmmm...mixed feelings here. OK on outward bound but the men's on the return journey...well, I won't go into to much detail but it wasn't the best. ---Service & Safety--- At the risk of sounding mildly xenophobic, I did wond
er whether French people were really as rude as they are made out to be. Of course, it's always dangerous generalising like that (before he gets swamped by offers of duels at dawn a la Dangereux Liasons) but the mainly French crew seemed to have been trained well. I did have one shoulder shrugging reaction when I challenged the checkout operator on the shop as the price on his screen didn't match the one on the label but we got there in the end. On the return journey we were 3 hours early but a rather pleasant French lady allowed us to get on a much earlier ferry bound for home - brownie points! Maybe I'm paranoid but as I'm not the World's best swimmer, I was interested to see the safety measures. There was a full evacuation plan on show along with details as to how to get a life jacket on. There was a safety announcement shortly after we'd arrived on deck about what to do in an emergency but it could have been a little louder, drowned out by people's indifference whilst tempted by alternative lures. ---Duty & Tax Free--- From 30/6/1999 duty and tax free goods were no longer available on journeys within theEuropean Union. Purchasing aboard means that the goods are taxed duty paid unless it's for consumption aboard in which case it's still duty free. If you want to save on the tyrannical rates of tax charged in Blighty then by waiting approximately 30 minutes into the Dover-Calais trip, you can buy at French duty paid prices at the ferry enters French territorial waters. The same applies on the return journey from departure up until about 50 minutes into the journey. ---Special Offers--- There is a freely available magazine called SeaFrance - Horizon, which lists, offers worth looking at. Examples included: A competition in conjunction with Coca Cola to win one of 300 free tickets to the theme park Bagatelle. A 3 for 2 offer on selected bottle
s of wine via the ship shop. <br> 3 litres of certain spirits (e.g. Teacher's whisky, Bacardi, 3 Barrels Brandy etc) for £30. A free bottle of River Crest wine available with purchases of 800 Benson & Hedges cigarettes, 200 Hamlet cigars or 1kg of Old Holborn tobacco. 20% off a round of golf in Arras, Dunkerque or St Omer. 20% off the prices at Parc Asterix outside Paris by reserving through 08705 711711. There were other offers too so I'd definitely recommend picking up the magazine and having a read on your way over. It also details the prices of all the goodies in the shop so you can see how much gear you can pack into your car. Ironically, despite the efforts gone to, to cater for all ages and tastes, the most pleasing aspect of the journey was being able to view the coastlines from the viewing decks. It was quite an experience seeing the white cliffs of Dover (with no Vera Lynn in sight) and there was a degree of excitement in seeing the French coastline for the first time (even if my good lady was convinced it must be Jersey 'cos we couldn't be there yet). SeaFrance is a good ferry operator dealing at the lowest cost end of the market. A few other reviews seem to have been pretty critical but I didn't see any major problems in the 2 trips. I would recommend travelling with them despite the various minor criticisms in this piece. If nothing else, you can enjoy the scenery of fishing boats at sea, other ferryboats taking on hovercrafts and losing and the stunning coastlines of England and France. Disembarking was as easy as simply driving off the ship and into the vagaries of driving on the right-hand side of the road and lower petrol prices. We'd arrived in La Belle France, safe and sound. Thanks for reading and enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend. Marandina. All of the operators mentioned have
their own websites. You can get more info about SeaFrance at http://www.seafrance.com. *From Monty Python's "Monty Python & The Holy Grail". **We sailed with the ship "Le SeaFrance Cézanne" which is 163.5m in length, 28m wide, has a speed service of 18 knots and a capacity of 1800passengers including 480 cars. "Le SeaFrance Rodin" is the latest in the SeaFrance fleet & is capable of 25 knots doing the trip in an hour only.
Having travelled many times across the water to France by other operators and being very satisfied I decided it was only fair that we should try the only French operator.I wish we hadn't.It started off very well when were greeted at the car park by two nice smiling young ladies handing out brochures of the ferry on which we would be travelling.Very impressive as none of the other operators do that.But that was it, it all went pear shaped from then on.The people that guide you where to park on the ferry where not interested in doing the job.The ferry was filthy, no bins had been emptied for ages, trays and tables were dirty in the restaurant and staff in there were surly.The staff in the shop looked as though they wished they were somewhere else and obviously did not know how to say please and thank you and the shelves were half empty. The general atmosphere one got from being on the boat was that most of the staff wished you were not there!As for being cheaper than the other ferries I would say shop around, book on line and watch out for deals and you will find some of the others just as cheap.I also wrote to the company to complain but had no reply!Why was I surprised!
Seafrance, formed in 1996 when they dropped the Sealink agreement with Stena line, run a fleet of 3 passenger ferries from Dover to Calais, with a crossing time of 90 minutes. They claim to offer a piece of France from the moment you step on board. This is true, as their ships are well fitted with French decor, products and of course staff. Seafrance are good value if you take advantage of one of their many special offers throughout the year, like the early booking discounts in January and the recent Bastille day offer. On board service is good with English speaking staff and the options to pay in Francs/Euros Pounds etc, without a conversion fee (as previously charged when part of sealink). Be warned: if you want to pay by card you need to show them your passport. Their ships are small compared to P&O Stena, but they will soon have a huge new superferry in Autumn. They also run a nice competition when returning to the UK to win a bottle of Seafrance champagne! However, Seafrance are known for their delays, and every time I've used them I've been delayed. Also their services are not as good for daytrippers, as there are long spacings between sailings. A good service in all though
Having read in a title that Seafrance was unreliable, I expected some more spicy stories about their unreliability. I have travelled with them well over a hundred times and it's my favourite cross channel ADVENTURE. You're never sure if you'll arrive on the other side of the Channel in due time: The Calais fishermen, the crew, any other strike in or around the harbour, weather (rather unlikely to cancel crossing for rough seas, as vessels and crew are up to the job) and some reasons one never realises (lorry stuck to deck when embarking e.g.) are all part of the Seafrance will-I-get-there-today-adventure. Then, when you finally sail, say cruise, the experience is just too short. 90 minutes later one drives on the wrong side of the road, remembering the friendly French crew. And fish & chips. With wine. (the other way to cross the channel is by train: WHO ON EARTH travels in a dark & drafty SUBWAY, when you can cruise in a Cafe Parisien with the white cliffs of Dover as a natural painting on port side...0
I have travelled to France many a time always taking the ferry across the channel, giving me time to rest between the long (and sometimes dare I say tedious!) car journeys on land. The ferries that I have primarily used are Brittany Ferries and P&O being the only ones available at the time, and the two big players in English Channel crossings. However, the last two times I have travelled over to visit our French friends, I have used Seafrance. The first journey using Seafrance involved the boat being delayed due to apparent "technical difficulties", which was rumoured to be the company miscalculating the time to tidy up the boat once in port would take! This resulted in a three hour wait, which needless to say, only added to the tiring aspect of travelling and meant that once in France I had another 4 hours driving and all on dark, unknown routes (which would have been avoided if the ferry had arrived on time). The second journey was cancelled completely and we were told at the "bureau d'informations" that it was due to bad weather. Again, this left me rather dissapointed since it meant waiting around until they thought it would be safe to leave, meaning I wouldn't be seeing my relatives again until late the next day. I would have been more understanding if I hadn't later found out that every other ferry was running on schedule and that the weather conditions did not seem particularly hazardous to them! I have rarely had these experiences with any other ferries except maybe once with P&0 where the crossing was diverted to Spain because of a snowstorm which is understandable. Delays are also not uncommon with any of the ferry companies notably with Brittany Ferries, which also tends to be overcrowded on ship during the peak summer season. However, once you have actua
lly managed to climb aboard the ship, SeaFrance will impress you with what is quite a unique and pleasant design, perhaps due to the fact that their ferries are relatively new and the overall facilities, entertainment, catering and style of the boat was more than adequate for a 6 hour journey and the fare that went with it. So SeaFrance does seem to offer a good service but for the price you pay you willl have to be prepared to put up with longer delays and possibly having to change your plans for the next day. However, i'm sure the service is much improved in the non-peak season when they have less customers to deal with! At the end of the day, I do not regret choosing SeaFrance as the I did find the ship relaxing and did save a considerable amount of money travelling with them. One just has to hope that they improve their travel times and manage to sort out their ferry scheduling and get to places on time!
I have travelled to europe many times, the easiest way to travel is by going on the ferry. Taking the car for me is far better than waiting around at airports and train stations. The only ferry I will use is seafrance and quite frankly I can`t think of a good reason why anyone would want to use a different ferry company. They are the cheapest, last year we went to Belgium twice and France twice, each time for a car and four passengers it cost us under £45.00 and that was for all of us. We havent experienced no problems, well apart from sea sickness, the prices on board are reasonable and if you are disabled you will get to drive on hte ferry first on the highest level so you do not need to do much walking. On our return journeys they will let you board an earlier ferry if you are in time for one. They also do special offers in the duty free shops and have all the amenities on board. On similar ferry crossings the lowest price we were given was £95.00 so it shows how much you can save. Why go anywhere else, what`s the difference. The only downfall, which you get with any ferry company is of course the weather.