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Tough times for ferry foot passengers

By Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries |

Practical Info

The Stena Britannica happily still takes foot passengers on the crossing between Hoek van Holland and Harwich (photo © Péter Gudella / dreamstime . com)

The Stena Britannica happily still takes foot passengers on the crossing between Hoek van Holland and Harwich (photo © Péter Gudella / dreamstime . com)

For travellers who, like us, enjoy using ferries as foot passengers rather than taking a car, these are not easy times. On many of our journeys to and from Britain, we have travelled by rail and then used a ferry to reach England. We have especially favoured the Dutch Flyer rail-sea tickets with allow through travel between railway stations in south-east England and most stations in the Netherlands.

But we see that sales of the Dutch Flyer ticket have been suspended, although travellers who have pre-purchased tickets for future travel dates will still have those tickets honoured. We suspect that the Dutch Flyer ticket from London (and other stations in eastern England) may not be consigned to history. Stena Line tell us that it is Dutch rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) which is currently not providing the tickets for onward rail travel in the Netherlands. That, we suspect, has something to do with the COVID pandemic. It would be a tragedy if the Dutch Flyer is gone for good.

Fortunately Stena Line ferries are still very happy to take foot passengers on their route from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. But there’s not such good news on the Calais to Dover route where P&O Ferries stopped taking foot passengers on all sailings from 1 January this year. We’ve reached out to P&O to query this, and they say it is a decision of the port authorities in Dover not to accept foot passengers. P&O are unable to confirm if this is merely a temporary ban on foot passengers on the Calais to Dover route.

The other ferry operator on the busy Calais to Dover route is DFDS. And they have never accepted foot passengers on their sailings on this route. But DFDS tell us that they are most certainly accepting foot passengers on their Dieppe to Newhaven ferry service. And P&O have said that they are still very pleased to welcome foot passengers on board their overnight service from Rotterdam to Hull.

Brittany Ferries introduced a blanket ban on all foot passengers last summer. But there we have better news as the ferry operator has informed us that booking for passengers travelling without vehicles on the Western Channel routes have now reopened for journeys on or after 22 March. So from that date foot passengers will be welcomed back on board on Brittany Ferries routes from England to France and Spain. The same applies to Brittany Ferries’ sailings from Ireland to France.

Copyright © Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. All rights reserved.
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About The Authors

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries

Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book was published in 2022 and reprinted in July 2023. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.


Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, 24 September 2021

Yes, we had noticed that the bus links have been scrapped. Actually, we used that route from Europoort to Hull in July. It's not actually a 20 mile walk. Take the metro from Rotterdam to Hoek van Holland then the fast ferry from Hoek Berghaven over to Europoort. But it's still a 40 min walk from the ferry stop to the P&O terminal. Note that the ferry doesn't run on Sundays. N&S

Eden Blyth, 24 September 2021

P&O are indeed booking foot passengers on the Hull to Europort ferries but have stopped the transfer coach option between the ferry terminal at Europort and Rotterdam. There seems to be no public transport option so foot passengrs would have to walk over 20 miles!

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