On the eve of the start of the half-term getaway for many schools, all ferries on the Dover-Calais route have been halted for at least nine hours.
The Port of Dover announced on Twitter: “Due to national action in France on the 09/02/23, there will be no ship movements in the port of Calais and all sailings will be suspended between 08:00 and 17:00.”
A spokesperson for the port later told The Independent: “Due to national industrial action in France, services to and from Calais have been suspended from 7am.
“The port is still open, with services to Dunkirk running as normal, but the port and local road network in and around Dover may be busier than usual.
“Please plan ahead, allowing extra time for your journey and follow the traffic management systems that are in place to minimise delays.
“Calais sailings are expected to begin loading at approximately 2pm GMT from Dover.”
Dover-Calais is the main link from the UK to Continental Europe, with around 30 ferries departing daily each way, carrying cars, buses and trucks.
The strikes in France are part of a protest against President Macron’s plan to raise the pension age by two years to 64.
DFDS, which also sails to Dunkirk, is telling passengers: “Customers travelling from Dover, proceed to port as booked to be transferred to Dunkirk.
“Travelling from Calais, please redirect to Dunkirk to be shipped on the first available departure.”
The other two operators, P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries, sail only from Dover to Calais.
P&O Ferries tweeted: “Due to a national strike in Calais the Port Of Calais is closed until 1700 CET [4pm GMT]. Because of this all our sailings are suspended until then.”
One passenger, Chris Matthews, complained: “Just driven 2.5 hrs to be told at Dover that our ferry is cancelled.
“Given a telephone number to ring that isn’t open and had no email or message that would have saved us a fortune in wasted petrol!
“I see you updated Twitter 3hrs ago. Why not update your customers?”
The ferry line responded: “We sent out communication both via email and text alerting all passengers.”
The closure comes the day before many schools in the UK break up for half term. Families heading for French, Swiss and Italian ski resorts typically take ferries to Calais on Friday evening to arrive in the Alps by Saturday.
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