Ferry Vs Eurotunnel

A  few of my fellow dog lovers have asked me about how easy I thought it was travelling over to mainland Europe with a dog, so I thought I would do a little post about my experience.

There are two main options:  The Ferry or the Eurotunnel.  Yes, I know that there are options around flying too but, even if Annie was a smaller breed, it wouldn’t be my choice to take her on a flight.

THE FERRY

When I travelled with my last dog Daisy, we opted to travel using Brittany Ferries.  They have certain ferries/routes that have allocated pet-friendly cabins.

There are other ferry providers that also allow dogs but generally, your dog has to stay in the car or, more often, travel in an allocated kennel.  Because Daisy was not used to being kennelled, I didn’t want to subject her to this so we travelled in comfort!

Our ferry experience was a good one.  We did travel in January so it was low season, it may be different during the summer season. We travelled from Portsmouth to Le Havre in France.

There were no long queues, loading the car was smooth and our little cabin was clean and actually pretty comfy. It would fit four people as pull-down top bunks are available and there is even a little bathroom with shower facilities.

The on-board regulations state that all dogs must be kept on lead and muzzled at all times when outside the car or cabin.  They do ask to see your muzzle. We did practice getting Daisy used to wearing the muzzle ahead of the journey but things were pretty relaxed on board and not many dogs actually wore their muzzles.  Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing and, again, may be different in high season.

The only thing that was an issue for us was the toileting arrangements for wee Daisy.

There is an allocated outside deck area to exercise your dog and allow them to have a toilet break.  It is pretty small but most dogs seemed to manage fine. Because it is still part of the ferry though, I don’t think Daisy thought she was “allowed” to pee there. She prefers a bit of grass to go on! It meant that no matter how many times we went out she just wasn’t interested in going.  The ferry crossing (including wait times etc) was nearly 12 hours as it was an overnighter.  Good job she had a bladder like an elephant!

The ferry times vary, depending on whether you have an overnight or daytime ferry.  Our overnight ferry was 8 hours long and cost £184.  Our daytime one was five and a half hours long and cost £139.  Bear in mind these prices were low season though.  They do go up during the summer.

THE EUROTUNNEL

Being able to be on deck approaching Le Havre was lovely and sleeping in the boat a novelty but, based on just the one experience, the tunnel is my preferred option, mainly because of the quick journey time. 

It is just a 35-minute journey through the tunnel, no problems with worrying about pee breaks for Annie, and you don’t have to worry about trying to sleep in a noisy, rocking boat.

We travelled in July, so it was peak season, but our experience of things was very smooth.  It is a very organised process and you can park up and are then clearly advised when to bring your car forward for boarding the train.

There is even an off lead, secure exercise area for your dog and Annie was treated to a complimentary sampler of “Pawsecco”.

There are multiple options for booking slots for the Eurotunnel and we paid £165.

Don’t forget to have a fully up to date Pet Passport for the return leg of your journey.  On my Spain trip, my Vet had incorrectly completed one of the vaccination dates (it was spotted at the UK side by Brittany Ferries but they don’t always check on the UK side).  If they hadn’t spotted it, we could have been in trouble trying to come home.  Luckily we had time and an accommodating, and apologetic Vet who got a replacement sent over to us in advance of our return travel.

I would love to hear other peoples experience of travelling into Europe with their dogs.

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