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Short crossings
Eurotunnel (0870 535 3535, www.eurotunnel.com) Folkestone-Calais (35mins). There is a £98 return avail-able on any date for travel from the UK after 5pm, returning before 11am. Website to be upgraded this spring.

Hoverspeed (0870 524 0241, www.hoverspeed.com) Fastcraft between Dover and Calais (40mins). Lead-in return from £58 (£78 in July-August). Revamped website gives a full spread of fares and is very easy to use.

Norfolkline (0870 870 1020, www.norfolkline.com) Dover-Dunkirk (2hrs). Lowest return is £88, or £104 on a few peak-time services. Excellent website, which tells you both the standard refundable fare and the cheapest deal.

P&O Ferries (0870 520 2020, www.poferries.com) Dover-Calais (90mins). Has cut sailings from 35 a day last year to 25 a day, but still offers the biggest choice of sailings, with departures every 40 minutes. Returns from £60. Website to be upgraded "over the next few months".

SeaFrance (0870 571 1711, www.seafrance.com) Dover-Calais (70-90mins) Current cheapest offer is £50. Relaunching website on June 6 to make it easier to search.

SpeedFerries (0871 222 7456, www.speedferries.com) Dover-Boulogne fastcraft (50mins). Cheapest returns were as low as £38 if bought earlier this year, but most of these have sold out for spring and summer. Around £50 is a more realistic minimum fare, though peak-season returns now cost from £78. Look out for special offers, such as a two-for-the price of one deal available for returns booked before the end of April. Website to be made fully searchable, but no date set for relaunch.

Longer crossings
Brittany Ferries (0870 536 0360, www.brittany-ferries.co.uk) By far the most important operator on the western Channel, with fares from £176. Five routes in all: Portsmouth-Caen (6hrs, but also some fastcraft crossings at less than 4hrs), Portsmouth-Cherbourg fastcraft (3hrs); Poole-Cherbourg (4hrs; fastcraft, 2hrs 15mins); Portsmouth-St Malo (8hrs 45mins); and Plymouth-Roscoff (6hrs). Upgraded website means you can now find cheapest fares more easily, though be sure to book by clicking on the banner offering cheap fares. If you click on Book Online, you may pay more (though you do get a more flexible ticket). Fares based on a car and two passengers; extra passengers £10 each.

Condor Ferries (0845 345 2000, www.condorferries.com) Fastcraft between Poole and St Malo via the Channel Islands from May 23 to October 2 (4hrs 30mins). Lead-in fare for two adults and two children is £250. On Sundays between July 17 and September 11 there is a 5hr Portsmouth-Cherbourg service at a flat rate of £375 for car plus four, including caravan or trailer. Website will be upgraded "soon".

P&O Ferries (0870 520 2020, www.poferries.com) P&O has dropped its Portsmouth-Cherbourg route and will end the Portsmouth-Le Havre service after this summer. Returns to Le Havre from £150.

Transmanche Ferries (0800 917 1201, www.transmancheferries.com) Newhaven-Dieppe (4hrs). Niche operator with a twice-daily sailing. Fares don't vary much (from £208 to £259), are based on fixed price bands and can be booked by phone or online.

Ferry Savers (0870 990 8492, www.ferrysavers.com) Books crossings with most operators including Euro-tunnel but not SpeedFerries and has a best-price guarantee.

• Owing to repairs to ramps in Calais, P&O and SeaFrance services face delays in bad weather. Another ramp should reopen on May 17.

Details valid [30/04/2005]
 
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