Dover Boulogne Sur Mer - Ferry Crossing

Dover Boulogne
Dover Boulogne

I first used the Dover Boulogne crossing in about 1980, and was quite taken by the fact that the ferry terminal was right in the middle of the town. Well, as close to the town centre as you can get, allowing for a few streets connecting the harbour with the main square. My only other experience had been going to Calais where the ferry terminal is quite a way from the town centre and is surrounded by industrial sites - not very attractive. But Boulogne Sur Mer, as it should be known, was much more attractive. Go as a foot passenger and you could walk from the ferry terminal to the nearest bars and restaurants, or into the town centre. And you still can, although as I write this (July09) the new terminal is about to open for fast ferries and it will be much further to walk, but perhaps a bus service will be provided.

(As of September 2010 LD Lines have stopped their service to Boulogne - but I'll leave this information here for reference)

One of the first catamarans
One of the first catamarans
SpeedOne - no longer operating
SpeedOne - no longer operating

Dover Boulogne - Past

I went back to Boulogne some time later (1993?) when the Hoverspeed Seacat was running. Exciting times because the old ferries to Boulogne had been replaced by the catamaran, holder of the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a passenger "ship" when she made that crossing as part of the delivery journey from Tasmania. When Hoverspeed folded some time later, Boulogne was left without a ferry crossing to the best of my knowledge, until history repeated itself when Speedferries arrived with Speed One, another catamaran, to provide a fast crossing from Dover at rock bottom prices. Everybody who uses the cross channel ferries needs to thank Speedferries for the enormous influence they had on bringing down ferry prices. Unfortunately in late 2008, Speedferries ceased trading when Speed One was seized in Boulogne because money was owed to the port authority. Yet again Boulogne Sur Mer was without a cross channel service.

LD Lines Cote d'Albatre in Boulogne
LD Lines Cote d'Albatre in Boulogne

Dover Boulogne: June 2009

In February 2009, Dover-Boulogne was possible again as a cross-channel route when LD Lines started their service. The French company had been operating on some of the longer Western channel routes for a while and was originally planning to start on the Dover-Boulogne crossing in July but I was really pleased to discover that operations were going to start a few months earlier. Why? Because we were due to go to France for a few days at Easter and now we could use one of our favourite channel crossings and see what LD Lines were like as a ferry company.

LD Lines are using the old Speedferries berth in Dover's main docks and boarding was very much the normal routine. The ship itself, Cote d'Albatre, was in very good condition in the public areas, and it was great to be able to sit in the bar, at "the sharp end" or "forward" for the nautical types and have a great view of the channel. There were all the usual facilities on board but if you like to browse the shop it won't take you long - it's quite small with everything you'd expect but not not much choice at all. Alternatively, if you like fresh air, there is loads of deck space and on the bright Spring day we crossed, lots of people were enjoying the sunshine.

The Dover Boulogne ferry crossing took 1hr 45 mins which is about 30 minutes longer than crossing to Calais but I'd rather cross to Boulogne which is in much nicer countryside for a short break, and it would take you the best part of thirty minutes to drive down from Calais to Boulogne in any case.

(As of September 2010 LD Lines have stopped their service to Boulogne - but I'll leave this information here for reference)

For things to do in Boulogne, read the Day Trip Guide To Boulogne Sur Mer or drive inland and stay the night in the walled town of Montreuil.

Norman Arrow - 11,000 tonnes
Norman Arrow - 11,000 tonnes

Dover Boulogne: Future

The conventional ferry on the Dover Boulogne crossing, the Cote d'Albatre had only been making two return crossings a day, but that is now changing to four crossings as the brand new Norman Arrow catamaran replaces the ferry on the route. So fast crossings to Boulogne are possible again. The only downside is that the Norman Arrow will soon be using the new terminal, much needed in terms of space and facilities, but it is further from the centre of town, and no longer just a short walk from ferry to hotel if you're a foot passenger. When facilities are ready, the ferry will also be using the new terminal, or "hub" to give it the official name.

Norman Arrow is the largest diesel powered catamaran in the world, is 112m long with a gross weight of 11,000 tonnes, and big enough to carry freight as well as cars. With a speed of about 40 knots, the current crossing time will be reduced to under one hour. Personally I'm looking forward to crossing on such a big catamaran as soon as the opportunity arises.

UPDATE: The Norman Arrow has now been replaced with a conventional ferry - Norman Spirit - so crossing times are back to just under two hours!

(As of September 2010 LD Lines have stopped their service to Boulogne - but I'll leave this information here for reference)

Boulogne Map - Zoom In For Detail

A markerBoulogne -
Boulogne, France
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Dover - Boulogne: Comments 2 comments

ashleygerrald 5 years ago

that was help full. ferry


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bigmikeh 5 years ago from UK Author

Pleased you found this information useful.

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