A wider choice of ferry operators and routes, plus cheaper deals on fares and tickets, has boosted ferry passenger figures for the Port of Dover.

The latest ferry statistics from the Port of Dover show some positive signs for UK ferry travel. Figures over the years have shown a drop in the number of ferry passengers, but 2013 has proven to be a healthy year so far, at least for the Port of Dover and the ferry companies operating the Dover to Calais and Dover to Dunkirk routes. The third quarter figures for 2013 show passenger figures up over 13% on the same period last year.

Cars and Coaches

The figures for the 3rd quarter of 2013 show an increase of 9% in the numbers of cars using the port compare to the same period last year. This means that the port has a market share of 55.5% of cross-Channel car market. Numbers of coaches were up by 13% – owing much to a particularly fruitful summer in the tourism industry – which gives the port a 65% market share.


The 3rd quarter result for 2013 also show a significant increase in truck volumes, which were up 17% compare to the same period last year. The Port of Dover now claims around 63% of the market share in the cross-Channel freight market.

3rd Quarter 2013 Port of Dover Figures

Quarter 3
% change
 Road Haulage Vehicles57135948775917.10%
 Vessel Entries - Ferry499646437.60%
Passenger figures for the Port of Dover, 3rd Quarter 2013

Yearly Figures

The figures for the final quarter of 2013 are obviously not yet available. However, as you can see from the table below, figures for overall passengers, cars, coaches and trucks for the year so far are all up against last year’s figures.

Year to Date - Port of Dover Figures

Quarter 3
% change
 Road Haulage Vehicles1643448145117913.20%
 Vessel Entries - Ferry144491213119.10%
Passenger figures for the Port of Dover, Year to Date

Figures from Port of Dover.

More Choice from Dover

The increase in traffic figures could well be connected to the fact that there is now more choice for ferry travellers going from Dover than ever there has been for several years. P&O Ferries of course still offer their Dover to Calais service. After the ferry operators SeaFrance went into administration, choice wasn’t looking so healthy. But other ferry operators were quick to take up the slack. In February 2012, P&O Ferries were joined by DFDS Seaways who offer 10 crossings from Dover to Calais per day. Later, the Eurotunnel Group bought the old SeaFrance ships and set up MyFerryLink, yet another new operator on the Dover to Calais route.

In 2013, this means there are something like 40 ferries per day leaving the port of Dover and heading across the English Channel for Calais. Add to that the DFDS Seaways route from Dover to Dunkirk, which has 12 departures per day, then it is easy to see just how choice for ferry passengers has improved.

In reaction to the positive Port of Dover figures, the Chief Executive of the Port of Dover, Mr Tim Waggott said, “My warmest congratulations to our major ferry customers on securing increased market share against a backdrop of overall growing markets. Such results reflect our joint commitment to providing brilliant customer service, and continued investment in port capacity.”

Dover Port through the Years

Dover has always been an important port for ferry travel in Europe. We have dug into our statistics archive to bring out some statistics of passenger figures over the years. The chart below shows the numbers of passengers in millions from 1970 to 2012 who travelled from the Port of Dover, taken from UK National Statistics.

Port of Dover Passenger Figures

Passenger Figures (in millions) for Travel from the Port of Dover, 1970 to 2012

As you can see, the record breaking year, where the figures peaked at an enormous 21.23 million passengers was 1997. Since then, competition from the Channel Tunnel and low cost airlines has eaten into Dover’s lead as the UK’s foremost departure point for short sea travel. The trend has been a downward one since the heady days of 1997, but hopefully the impressive figures for 2013 show the start of a fight back for the ferry.