Ferry updates: P&O still suspended, arrive early for Calais-Dover

P&O passengers have been told not to go to the port unless they have booked onto another carrier. Services will not resume until Wednesday at the earliest

An image of a P&O ferry
P&O Ferries are still suspended on the Dover-Calais route and will be until at least Wednesday
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P&O Ferries services remain suspended today (April 18) on the Dover to Calais route, and will not begin running until Wednesday (April 20) at the earliest.

P&O have told passengers to “please only arrive at the port if you have a booking direct with another carrier.”

Affected passengers are being emailed with instructions on how to refund their P&O booking and rebook onto another service.

DFDS has said that it has no availability for P&O passengers travelling today, adding: “Please do not proceed to port without a confirmed reservation, contact P&O Ferries for alternative travel arrangements.”

The continued suspension of P&O Ferries, which had previously made up 23% of cross-Channel crossings, comes after two Dover-Calais vessels – the Pride of Kent and the Spirit of Britain – were detained by port authorities last week having failed safety inspections.

Read more: Blow to Easter travel to France as second P&O ferry detained at Dover

Despite the reduced number of ferries operating crossings between Dover and Calais, the Port of Dover and DFDS report that tourist traffic is currently free-flowing and has been all weekend.

DFDS has warned, however, that a “very high volume of traffic” is expected today at Calais and Dunkirk as people return to the UK from Easter breaks. The firm has asked passengers to allow two hours to complete their check-in and border controls.

Irish Ferries has also reminded passengers travelling between Dover and Calais that check-in closes 60 minutes before departure, although if you are caught in queues it may be able to accommodate you on the next sailing.

Cross-Channel services returning to pre-pandemic levels for some firms, but passenger numbers down

Two years of Covid-related disruption has finally given way to the resumption of normal service on Brittany Ferries.

“Our 11 ships are sailing once again, most notably the Barfleur, which has been docked for a year, and the Bretagne, [which has been docked] for six months,” said the company’s president Jean-Marc Roué.

However, passenger numbers are still reduced, with 1.9-2 million expected this year, compared to 2.4 million in 2019.

In the first quarter, cross-Channel traffic between Dover and Calais was also down 40% for passengers and 15% for freight.

“And since June 2021, DFDS and P&O have had to share a smaller and smaller pie with a newcomer, Irish Ferries, which is cutting prices with a low-cost employment model,” Mr Roué added.

“Its ships sail under a Cypriot flag, allowing it to pay lower salaries than its competitors.”

It is thought that, having sacked its 800 UK crew members and rehired agency workers who are paid less than UK minimum wage, P&O may now try to better Irish Ferries’ low prices.

Read more: P&O Dover-Calais services remains suspended, row over pay continues

“If that happened, we would perhaps have to review our tariffs,” said Jean-Claude Charlo, DFDS France’s director general.

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