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LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

East Sussex UK
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LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

I have read some worrying messages on other sites about LD Lines Dover-Boulogne route: long delays and cancelled crossings. Has anyone more recent experience?

I have a large family group including very young children and elderly grandparents going to Boulogne, and am wondering if we should book to Calais instead and drive down the coast for 30 minutes rather than risk ruining their holiday....

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Calais
Calais
Pas-de-Calais, France
Guildford, UK
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1. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

I am a regular user of LD Lines' service from Dover to Boulogne. It is true to say that the service has been variable during the eighteen months of its operation.

Current problems stem from the use of a new ship on the route, The Norman Bridge. When it was introduced in March there were problems with it not being able to open its bow doors, resulting in lengthy turnaround periods at both Dover and Boulogne. This resulted in a revised (reduced) timetable being introduced. On my last trip, two weeks ago, Norman Bridge had been replaced by Ostend Spirit, which, as Norman Spirit was the previous boat on the route before it was moved to operate the Ramsgate to Ostend service. Apparently, Norman Bridge is now in dry dock for repairs, and nobody seemed sure if or when it might return since it was on a short lease anyway.

My experience has overall been good, but because of the few crossings each way, if anything does go wrong it can create difficulties.

If you want to be sure of your crossing, then I would opt for P&O to Calais. I always tend to avoid Sea France because of their susceptibility to short-notice industrial action.

Hope that helps,

Andrew

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Calais
Calais
Pas-de-Calais, France
Bucks, UK
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2. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

I would go for the safer crossing myself - Dover-Calais with P&O. If you're in no particular hurry, you could even try Dover-Dunkerque with Norfolkline - that's by far the nicest service on the short Channel routes, but it will add another 20 minutes driving.

Again if you are not in a hurry, the old coast road from Calais to Boulogne (the D940) is a pretty route and gives some great views of Dover from Cap Gris Nez etc.

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Calais
Calais
Pas-de-Calais, France
East Sussex UK
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3. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

Thanks, that's interesting - I thought the "Norman Spirit" was moved permanently to the Ramsgate/Ostend route and renamed "Ostend Spirit". What has now happened to that route? Which boat are they using, if it is still running?

I am seriously considering P&O but the family would rather arrive directly in Boulogne, so I am trying to weigh up the pros and cons.

Any more information and advice would be very welcome.

I myself think that a reliable crossing followed by a meander along the coast road, stopping at familiar beaches and monuments, as part of the holiday, would be preferable to prolongued anxiety about the reliability of LD Lines.

East Sussex UK
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4. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

Thanks to PoolLounger as well - great minds think alike about the beautiful coast road.

I love the Dunkirk crossing and often use it going to Germany, but with two crowded cars and three very small children I don't want to lengthen the journey this time.

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Chesterfield...
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5. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

We used LD Lines last year and the delays were terrible.

You have to arrive at least an hour before departure at Dover to embark, the crossing takes an hour and threequarters and then there's usually a wait to disembark.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare, embarking began 10 minutes before the time the ship was supposed to leave, mist/fog in the harbour delayed us another half hour and disembarking took at least 20 mins in Boulogne.

From us arriving in Dover to actually being in Boulogne town centre took over four hours.

Perhaps we had a bad'un on the outward run but the return journey took over three hours and it took another half an hour to clear Dover Docks such was the volume of traffic.

Since then weve used Eurotunnel and normally the time taken from arriving at the Eurotunnel terminal to arriving in Boulogne is no more than a couple of hours.

It may be a bit dearer but it's certainly quicker.

Guildford, UK
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6. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

As far as I know, moving Ostend Spirit to the route is only temporary, and although I haven't checked, I imagine that a reduced service is being used Ramsgate to Ostend using the TransEuropa ferries.

I think if I were you, I'd probably opt for Calais with P&O and definitely take the coastal road down to Boulogne and beyond ...

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Calais
Calais
Pas-de-Calais, France
East Sussex UK
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7. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

Happened to be in Dover Castle today, and kept a beady eye on the shipping. Saw lots of P&O and Norfolkline, and a Fred Olsen cruise liner, but failed to spot LD Lines. Of course I could have been in the tunnels when they sailed.

Was really surprised to see a SeaFrance boat coming in. What is the latest news on them? I remember their boats with affection, Renoir, Cézanne, Berlioz and Rodin and so on, but are they really still operating?

Edited: 22 May 2010, 21:29
Rye, United Kingdom
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for Dover, Rye
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8. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

I saw a Seafrance ferry yesterday so yep definetely still operating :D I tend to also take P&0 for quickness and if I go to Boulogne we just drive down there, it doesn't take long on the good roads connecting it.

Edited: 23 May 2010, 10:36
Guildford, UK
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9. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

Sea France very much still running, but huge debts and a protectionist workforce will probably see them disappear in the next couple of years unless they are taken over by one of the other operators.

East Sussex UK
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10. Re: LD Lines to Boulogne - still unreliable?

www.touringandtenting.com/forums/index.php…

Apparently they are rescued until mid-September, but then......

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