Compare Ferry Operators

Which company do you choose on the Dover-Calais route?

In two days we tried all the ferry companies between Dover and Calais. Below you will find our findings. This way we may be able to help you choose the right ferry company.

Irish Ferries



Irish Ferries

VesselCôte Des FlandresPioneerIsle of Innisfree
Facilities on board🥈🥇🥉
Hygiene on board🥈🥇🥉
Kids' Corner🥈🥇🥉
Travel with pets🥉🥇🥈
Outdoor environment🥉🥇🥈
Ship stability🥈🥇🥉
WiFi on board🥇🥈🥉
Coffee quality🥇🥈🥉
Price coffee£3,50 £3,35 £3,25
Price beer£4,40 (0,5 L draft)£5,29 (0,5 L draft)£5,95 (330 ml bottle)
Price baquette£5,95£6,65£7,50
Payment options with company*
Book at DFDS

Book at P&O

Book at Irish Ferries

* Do you want to use a different payment method than the ferry company offers? Then use ferry booking site Direct Ferries ↗.

Photo impression DFDS

Photo impression P&O

Photo impression Irish Ferries

You can choose from three ferry companies between Dover and Calais. We booked a crossing with all of them and tested it together with the Eurotunnel.

What do you need to know in advance?

  • To begin with, we would like to mention that we had a positive experience with all operators. The check-ins were smooth, and everyone was friendly everywhere. There are enough activities on board to keep you occupied during the 1.5-hour crossing. If you are traveling with children or pets, we recommend being a bit more selective. P&O offers the best facilities for kids and pets on board.
  • There are also different types of ships per company and these can offer different experiences.

P&O Ferries

P&O impressed us most with a crossing on the P&O Pioneer. This new ship makes you feel like you are on a luxury hotel floor, overlooking the sea. As can be seen from our photos, the ship is stylish and modernly furnished. In addition, the ferry is very stable, which is particularly useful if you are prone to seasickness. The ship also offers the best facilities, both indoors and outdoors. Do you want this experience? Then travel with the P&O Pioneer or sister ship Liberté.

Irish Ferries

With Irish Ferries we had a ‘real ferry experience’ on the Isle of Innisfree. The boat is old and moves more. It has old ship doors without windows, and it’s easy to get lost because there are multiple layers both outside and inside. We could get a breath of fresh air on the deck and peer over the railing. This certainly gave this boat its charm.


Our DFDS trip was on the Côte Des Flandres. On board it was quite neat at first glance, but it was also a somewhat decent crossing. It gave us a bit of a public transport feeling. The facilities on board were okay but limited. For example, there was no possibility for pets and there were no benches outside. In the only outdoor area at the back, everyone sat on the steel deck and smoked.

Overview of Assessed Criteria

The check-in process is the same per company: You drive into the port and follow the signs to the check-in gates.

However, this is your first personal contact moment and the friendliness and flexibility of the employees is therefore important. At DFDS and P&O we could choose to take a boat earlier from the other company. They have a collaboration in this. Both were very friendly, but the lady from P&O excelled in this. Small difference, but just enough to walk away with the best check-in experience. At Irish Ferries we had to wait a long time and the check-in was a bit more chaotic. Here too we met a friendly employee.

Riding aboard ferries can sometimes be cramped and for some people  stressful. However, this went very smoothly on all ships between Calais and Dover. With the new P&O boats this went very smoothly and the ferry was excellently equipped for this. This was also the case with DFDS and Irish Ferries, but a lesser experience due to the older ships. An employee at DFDS was in a bad mood and felt it necessary to make a fuss about the fact that he was not driving within the lines sufficiently (which was the case).

When you come on board,  there are people on all ferries ready to answer questions and show you the right way. Here too, the companies did not differ much from each other. Nevertheless, we felt that we were treated very kindly at P&O. We had cameras with us and were able to take pictures everywhere without any problems. In addition, they had a proactive, friendly attitude.

DFDS and P&O are mainly on one floor and offer most facilities on board. P&O’s new ship could not be beaten in this regard. Everything was clean, well thought out and thoughtfully decorated. Irish Ferries provided a typical ferry experience on a slightly older ship.

A new ship is easier to keep clean? It looks like that. The newer the furnishings, the fresher on board. So P&O was lord and master in this. The toilets were super clean and the rest of the ship was also in perfect order.

There were a number of simple playgrounds for (small) children. P&O had the most facilities, followed by DFDS and Irish Ferries.
We weren’t able to take pictures everywhere because of the children playing.
For the older children there were small arcade halls on board. This was otherwise quite limited.

At DFDS there were no facilities on board and your companion had to stay in the car on the parking deck. At Direct Ferries, four-legged friends could simply come on board and there was a simple dog toilet on one of the aft decks. P&O has a complete Pet Lounge with drinking bowls and a separate pet deck, and this is of course very pleasant for owners with pets.

The outdoor environment can be important for those who also want to enjoy the beautiful sea views on board. We visited the outside deck on each ship.

DFDS had a poor outdoor environment. There was only an aft deck without benches and with a limited view to the rear. The windows of the ferry were also spherical, which did not improve the view outside.
P&O has a luxurious appearance with a glass fence. Beautiful, but you also miss the wind in your hair a bit.
Irish Ferries had the best outdoor experience for us because we love the wind in our hair. It was sometimes a bit of a search, but you could go outside anywhere around the ship and there were several decks with benches.

On the day of sailing with P&O we had slightly more waves than on the day with DFDS and Irish Ferries. However, P&O felt like you were standing on a floor of an apartment. Very stable (with our conditions). DFDS and Irish Ferries leaned a little more and were more affected by the waves.

All three ferry operators offer free WiFi during the crossing. At DFDS we had the most pleasant experience with the WiFi connection: connecting to the network was a lot easier here than with P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries. In addition, we experienced the most stable and fastest connection at DFDS.

We ordered a black coffee (“an Americano, please!“) from all companies and you can actually skip it everywhere unless you like it watery.

The Irish Ferries coffee was bad, and had a hint of cleaning product on it
DFDS and P&O hardly differed from each other, but the DFDS coffee was perhaps just a tad tastier.

About us

The ultimate traveler’s guide from Calais to Dover, the shortest distance you can travel from France to England by ferry or train.

Compare tickets from P&O Ferries, Irish Ferries, DFDS and the Eurotunnel on