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UK passengers wait hours for ferries to France ahead of Easter break

origin 1Traffic at the Port of Dover at the start of the Easter Break, Kent, England on Saturday, April 1, 2023. ©Gareth Fuller/AP

The Port of Dover declared a critical incident on Saturday as high traffic levels caused long delays for bus passengers.

Officials attributed the delays to bad weather, heavy traffic and delays in processing by French authorities.

The port has warned ferry passengers of the extended waiting times and said it was “deeply frustrated” with the situation, which has become a regular feature of cross-Channel travel since Britain’s exit from the European Union.

While the port said bus passengers faced the longest delays, local media reports also showed long lines of cars and trucks.

origin 1Coaches wait to enter the Port of Dover after extra departures were made overnight to try and clear the backlog that has left passengers stranded in Easter traffic for hours.AP Photo

One coach driver said he first had to wait three and a half hours for passengers to be cleared: “When we reached the port, we queued up. And seven hours later, we moved about three inches. The port was teeming with kids getting off the coaches to go to the toilet. If you went into the toilet area, it was devastated. It was full of bodies, nobody could get there. And it was really heartbreaking.”

Ferry operator DFDS said it was offering a “shuttle service” that would take passengers onto the next available ferry as soon as they check-in due to heavy traffic.

“While freight and car traffic was processed steadily, regardless of difficult weather conditions and high seasonal volumes, bus traffic suffered significant delays due to lengthy French border procedures and huge volume,” said the port.