Wherever your starting point in Britain, the short crossing from Kent is usually the most cost-effective choice. The drive down through the congested South East from much of the country may not be great fun, compared with the tempting alternative of heading to a port on the East or South coasts, but going via Kent usually wins hands down when it comes to total cost and journey time.

The table below gives some indication of what you might expect to pay for a return crossing this summer, outside the peak of July/August. There's a premium to pay to use the Tunnel, but if you're in a hurry it may well be worth it. But there's little to distinguish the pricing across the three ferry operators, with their four routes. If you're
not in a hurry, then there's a lot to be said for the Dunkerque option.
typical level of service in recent summer seasons:
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An ever-changing market: the Dover Straits route is one of the most heavily trafficked sea crossings in the world. From a consumer point of view, it's good that the ferries have retained a significant share of the market since Eurotunnel services started in 1995. The range of ferry operators has fluctuated over the years; we're now back down to two operators - P&O, and DFDS . DFDS has now acquired the two MyFerry Link ships (Rodin and Berlioz), which got trashed during the ugly labour disputes last summer. But P&O is still the biggest operator, with up to 23 return crossings a day, using six ships on the route, including two of the largest ferries in the world, only a few years old now - Spirit of France and Spirit of Dover. It's the one enduring successor to the range of operators that plyed the route through the boom period of the 60s and 70s, such as the late lamented Townsend Thoresen and less fondly remembered Sealink.

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