Over or under? By which I mean Tunnel or Ferry. Together with one snapping companion or another – mostly Antony Fraser – I make the journey to continental Europe several times a year, covering events or visiting specialists, and there’s the choice of taking Eurotunnel’s Shuttle from Folkestone or the aquatic option which is a DFDS ferry out of Dover. For longer crossings, Portsmouth or Plymouth to Caen or Santander I sail with Brittany Ferries, and from Harwich to Hook-of-holland it’s Stena Line; in either case, there’s no other choice. But for the short hop from Dover to Calais it’s really down to speed versus chill-out. There are pros and cons either way. Eurotunnel offers a reasonably decent terminal experience (not knowingly fatal) with numerous cafes and duty-free shopping, plus the revered chuck wagon ladies purveying bacon and eggs at the Folkestone end. For the nautical shopping experience you have to be actually on board the ferry, and in DFDS’S case the optimum mode of travel is their top deck Premier lounge, which, if coupled with Priority boarding, means you speed quickly out of Dover, fully refreshed, onto the motorway. The tunnel train takes 35 minutes, the sea voyage 1hr 30mins. In both modes, passport scrutiny is much lengthier when leaving Calais than departing Blighty. So, we tend to take the Tunnel to get on the Autoroute faster, and the Ferry for a more relaxed return passage where time is not of the essence. Hold-ups are rare in either context. But whether this remains the case six months from now is another question.
Who pays the ferry man? For optimal travel relaxation, ferry trumps tunnel, but tunnel wins if speed of travel is the priority