Taking one of the many routes across the English Channel to France is a great way to keep your independence and comforts whilst on a trip by taking your own car. Depart from Dover, Folkstone, Plymouth, Poole, Newhaven and Portsmouth on a variety of carriers depending on your needs. If you have travelled by ferry before you’ll be familiar with the format; Drive on, park yourself up somewhere semi-comfortable and decide whether you want to partake in the overpriced canteen food, browse the duty-free shop or head to the deck to wave off the coast of England.
Your ferry crossing can often be so dependent on the weather – if you have a rough crossing its likely that the public areas will be plagued with nauseous passengers unable to move around the ship. Coach-loads of French day-trippers and school children can often make the crossing a frantic one too. But what if there was a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle?
If you’ve grown tired of ferry travel and you haven’t discovered the Club Lounge, this could very well make your summer holiday. Available to passengers who pre-purchase a ticket when booking their crossing or from the information point on-board, this fully staffed quieter area of the ship is well worth the £12 per head price tag (sometimes £6 if you are lucky enough to get a 241 deal in low season).
Club lounge on Spirit of Britain P&O ferry. Picture credit: P&O Ferries
On arrival at the lounge you are greeted by a member of staff who explains this area of the ship and encourages you to help yourself to a complimentary glass of prosecco (if you’re not the driver) and put your feet up with a newspaper or browse on the complimentary WiFi. Fresh fruit, a selection of teas and coffees and biscuits are enough to keep you entertained on the 90-minute crossing between Dover and Calais. And if you fancy something more substantial just choose from a selection of breakfasts, sandwiches and snacks that are no more expensive than the main café.
This all sounds too good to be true doesn’t it, so are there any cons? If you’re a family of four and you don’t want to shell out over £40 before you get to your destination, this might not be the option for you. We recommend checking before you travel to see if there are any offers available, we found on the low season crossings you could often get two tickets for the price of one. Club Lounges aren’t available on every crossing and every ship so check before pinning your hopes on a more salubrious trip. You can also opt for priority boarding and disembarking, which we decided wasn’t necessarily worth the £12 per car charge unless you’re planning on being somewhere quickly when you get to France.
We would definitely recommend the Club Lounge for anyone who wants to start their holiday in style or extend their relaxation right until they touch down on English soil.