On my many trips to France I have taken every possible channel crossing possible with the notable exception of Newhaven-Dieppe. Having organised a trip to Normandy it was time to choose the crossing. The Newhaven to Dieppe operated by DFDS Seaways seemed a fairly convenient crossing depositing me on French soil about 90 minutes from my rented accommodation in Normandy.
The first thing I discovered was the ship’s branding was not DFDS but Transmanche Ferries. Their bright yellow and white ship was definitely not the more muted navy and white of other DFDS ferries I had seen and travelled on. It’s complicated and has to do with who owns what and which company is the parent company but this is not the place to delve into that. It is enough to know the Transmanche Ferries are operated by DFDS.
On the Newhaven-Dieppe route they operate two sister ships commissioned in 2006. The Seven Sisters and La Cote d’Albaitre make two and sometimes three crossings a day.
All the pre-boarding formalities were done efficiently but then we had a long wait before actually boarding the ship. Once cars were loaded however, everything went smoothly and we were among the first to arrive on the passenger decks.
I was immediately impressed by the lounge with its panoramic window looking out over the stern of the ship. This extended to two decks with stairs connecting the two. The wood panelling throughout gave the lounge a very classic look reminiscent of the days of the great ocean liners.
On the upper lounge deck was a bar serving coffee, soft drinks and alcohol as well as a few snacks. On the lower deck there was a duty free shop which opened once we had left port. The usual gifts, branded goods and guides were on sale as well as the standard stock of perfumes, tobacco goods and drinks. The selection was adequate.
On the lower of the two passenger decks and towards the bow was a cafeteria. Both ships had the eating area over two decks but on the outward crossing on Seven Sisters the upper deck was roped off. However, on the return crossing we were able to enjoy our meal on the upper deck which had a much more restful ambience due to there being no through traffic.
The food was reasonable and there were plenty of choices on the menu. Considering we were a captive audience prices were good value for money. I discovered that the drinks in the bar were a little more expensive than those in the cafeteria.
There are two lounges with reclining seats on board. These are comfortable but both are TV lounges. I would like to have had one of them as a quiet lounge to relax in.
On both crossings it was either too cold or too blowy to be outside for long but there is a large sun deck for those days when the weather is good.
There is a small reception which seems to deal mostly with boarding foot passengers and those who have booked a cabin for the crossing. Strangely, there is no Bureau de Change just two machines that give change in either Euros or pounds. The exchange rate was little different from banks and ATMs but don’t expect to exchange more than a few pounds.
The outward journey was calm but the return journey was more windy and choppier. However there was little discernible difference in the ship’s behaviour. Both crossings were smooth and stable – all credit to the ship designers.
Too often I have taken channel crossings were the interior resembles more of a downmarket pub. Tables with sticky surfaces, grubby corners in the public areas and a general air of the unkempt. Both ships were a pleasure to travel on despite being at the economy end of the market (at least were pricing is concerned). Importantly they were clean and the service from the staff was friendly and helpful even those on the car deck where you get your first impression.
The Newhaven Dieppe crossing is not a busy route but it is, depending on your starting point in the UK and your destination in France, a convenient crossing. It is long enough for a meal and some relaxing time without the extended crossings further west.
Prices for travel with DFDS from Newhaven to Dieppe start from £49 each way for a car and two people. Bookings include access to a lounge with reclining seats. Private cabins with ensuite bathrooms are available for an additional fee. Crossings on the route take four hours, with two departures a day each way from October to April, and three sailings per day from May to September. Book at www.dfds.co.uk (£).
Declaration: I travelled as a guest of DFDS Seaways. However, I value my editorial independence and will always write an honest review based entirely on my experience. There are affiliate links on this page which means I get a small commission at no cost to you if you book through one of the links. The banner links are obvious and any text which is an affiliate link is followed by the ‘£’ sign.