LONDON, April 2, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Passengers going by coach from the UK to France on Saturday, the first day of the Easter holidays, experienced huge delays due to lengthy French border checks, Dover port authorities said.
Long waits for travellers at the port at the start of school holidays have become more frequent since Brexit, which ended free movement from Britain to EU member states.
Rosie Pearson, who was heading to Val d'Isere in the French Alps on an overnight bus with her husband and two teenagers, said they had faced a 16-hour wait.
Pearson, 50, an environmental campaigner, described the situation at Dover as "carnage".
They had been due to arrive at 2.15 pm on Saturday but they will now not make it until 6am on Sunday because of the Dover delays.
"The whole thing was a shambles... Not a single bit of communication," she told the PA news agency. "The worst thing was that no one told us anything for the whole 16 hours, literally nothing."
Ferry operator P&O on Saturday evening apologised for the delays.
"Coaches at the cruise terminal are currently experiencing a wait time of up to 3.5 hours before they can proceed to the Port of Dover," it said on Twitter.
"Once they are in the buffer zone at the entrance to the port the wait is approximately another 3-4 hours. We apologise for delays," it said.
Ferry firm DFDS said earlier Saturday that waiting times for coaches to board ferries on Friday evening had been around seven hours.
Dover Port said coaches had been waiting "several hours but tourist cars are getting through OK".
"The Port of Dover is deeply frustrated by last night's and this morning's situation," a statement said, adding that freight traffic had not been unduly affected.
Last summer, the UK government blamed France for failing to adequately staff their border posts at the Dover port after two days of long delays for all travellers, allegations that Paris denied.
French lawmakers said checks now took longer because Britain has "third-country" status outside the EU, and urged that facilities be improved at Dover.