Dover, Zeebrugge, ferry and bike?
I noticed when looking on various ferry companies' websites they say they do not allow footpassengers, and require motorvehicle details for any passenger. I also see some references to cyclists using the same ferries, though. Are cyclists classed as footpassengers, or is it just a website ommission that cyclists cannot book direct?
Has opinion, will express
You are classified as a motor vehicle. You line up in the motor vehicle bays and go aboard (at the front of the queue, most likely) and tie up the bike where directed (there's usually a piece of rope there). Just watch the steel ramps if they are wet -- they can be slippery.
Originally Posted by Gotte
If you are a foot passenger (without a bike), you board by an entirely different means through the terminal and the gangway.
When I travelled between Dunquerque and Dover and return, I booked on the days at the terminal offices. Both trips were aboard a big displacement-hull ferry, not the "fast" catamaran ferries (I couldn't see the point in paying a huge premium for "fast" travel when I like ferries and wanted to extend the time on board anyway.
The major problems I had were (a) trying to understand the unintelligible instructions in Dover to follow the yellow line that ended me up in the freight customs area instead of the passenger area and (b) getting out of Dunquerque which is a fairly large industrial centre, and into the pretty countryside.
Thanks for that. HAd any experience of Zeebrugge or ostend?
Long Distance Cyclist
I took a ferry between Dover and Calais and had no problem crossing with my bicycle. In fact, it was very easy!
I walked up to the ticket counter with my bicycle beside me, asked if my bicycle was allowed on the ferry, they told me it was but that I had to go to the front of the line of cars and follow the instructions they gave me. I bought the ticket, and rode to the front of the line.
I found myself surrounded by motorcyclists, which they put in the same category as bicycles, and the group of us (approx. a dozen motorcycles and me) were told to go ahead and board the ferry before any of the cars and other vehicles. We were directed to one side of the ferry and told to secure our "bikes" to the piping and whatever else we could find, and then to take what we needed for the trip across with us. Then we were directed to where the lounge etc. was.
We had been told that we would be required to go down to our "bikes" before the rest of the passengers when we docked, so I headed down as directed, unlocked my bicycle and got ready to roll. We were waved off the ferry ahead of all the other vehicles, and sent on our way.
The same thing happened on my crossing between Caen and Portsmouth.
I had a great trip across both times, except for a bit of seasickness at the start of the Dover crossing.
Oh yes, it was recommended to me to head right for the restaurant the moment I boarded the ferry if I wanted to eat during the crossing. Most people stand on deck and watch the White Cliffs disappear and then go to the restaurant, but if you go to the restaurant first, you can just walk right in and get your food ... then watch the White Cliffs disappear. Apparently if you go later, there's usually a huge line-up.
I'm made of earth!
Last spring when I rode from Germany to England, I was planning on taking the ferry from Oostende to Dover. Then I found out en route that there is no longer ferry service out of Oostende. It wasn't a problem though as I just adjusted my route and headed to Dunkirk.
I had no problems at all at Dunkirk. Told them I was on a bike, they didn't bat an eyelash. Bought my ticket, went to use the facilities, and I discovered that they have showers free to use. Excellent.
I guess they have them for all the truckers who come through transporting goods from Britain to the continent. I was very happy to take an unexpected, hot, indoor shower.
I regulary use the Rosyth/Zeebrugge ferry as cyclist and there is no problem. From where I live it is an easy ride to the ferry at Rosyth and you roll on when called.
Originally Posted by Gotte
It's ok at Zeebrugge also and many cyclists use this service. There are plenty of campsites near the Ferry Terminal at Zeegrugge if you are camping.
One tip would be that to cut costs it's possible to forgo a cabin which is a bit expensive and buy a "cabin seat". No-one can actually sleep in these things but cyclists just take their sleeping mats and bags and find a space to sleep. There are also showers provided, which is not well-known.
Food is very good, especially breakfast, but it is a bit dear also.
The service is very popular with cyclists but it's a pity it's so far north as my touring is done in France. One can cycle out of Belguim using cycle paths in a day and into France.
I'm made of earth!
I'll be doing a ride from Germany to Britain again next summer, and I'm looking forward to the ferry ride already! I love riding through Belgium!
I think I'll check out the Zeebrugge ferry this time. If that doesn't work out, I'll do Dunkirk again.
We drove this summer on the Hull - Zeebrugge ferry, and saw a few cyclists. THe ferry itself was great. Good cabins, excellent food (bizarrely, the entire crew were filipino (except the officers). I do like catching the ferry, but for my next tour, the Costa Brava for 10 days, we'll have to fly again, which is a shame.
THanks for the input all, much appreciated.