As avid cruise fans we’ve been on many cruises around the world, including the Panama Canal and Norwegian Fjords. We usually sail with Carnival, so you can imagine our delight when they announced they would be sailing from Dover cruise terminal; especially as we found that Dover cruise parking options are both affordable an convenient.
Dover was already home to major cruise operators including Saga and Hurtigruten, but the addition of the Carnival Pride has really cemented their position as a major cruise terminal. After seeing some of our biggest bucket list destinations open up, we couldn’t wait to cruise without the need to fly.
But this led to questioning how we would get to our cruise ship from our home in the North West, do we get the train or drive and park. A quick internet search revealed that car parking at Dover cruise terminal was far more cost effective than getting a train; especially if you’re travelling as a family. But what parking options are available?
Best Dover Port Parking Options
There are a couple of port parking providers to choose from and each one has their benefits. You have the option of paying less but having to rely on transfers to get you to the ship and back, or directly parking at Dover port.
So regardless of your preferences or circumstances, we should have the right parking provider for you.
CPS Cruise Parking
CPS parking wasn’t actually the first result that showed up on our google search, but we are definitely glad we found it.
The parking for CPS is located right at your Dover cruise terminal, so you can literally drop your car off and begin your embarkation process.
As you would expect, parking at Dover port is a little bit more expensive. But for us, the extra cost was well worth the money; mainly due to the ease and convenience of the parking process.
There is next to no waiting around due to the staggered nature of cruise boarding. Plus you have peace of mind that your car is securely parked and not just left in a local field, like you get with some cruise parking operators.
We were so impressed with the service of CPS, we also used them for Southampton cruise parking when we sailed the P&O Britannia.
How to Park with CPS?
When you pre book your parking for Dover port, you will be sent a confirmation email that will contain your permit. Prior to arrival make sure your permit is visible on your dashboard.
At the Dover port entry gate, you will be stopped by security. If they haven’t spotted your permit, just explain to them you are parking with CPS for a cruise. You will then be directed to the relevant terminal.
When you reach your cruise terminal you will see CPS flags and staff ready to receive you. Simply pull up to the parking attendant and provide them with your details. They will then give you a tag for your car keys, please make sure you remove any other keys.
The first time we parked with CPS we were arrived relatively early and were directed to pull in to the parking bays in front of the terminal building. This is where we removed our luggage and handed over the keys.
The second time we parked directly at the port we arrived in the early afternoon, after taking the oprtunity to visit Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover. We were asked to exit and leave the vehicle at the initial CPS meeting point, which is still just a very short walk to the cruise terminal.
How Much Does CPS Dover Parking Cost?
The cost of parking your car at Dover cruise terminal with CPS will depend on your itinerary, the time of year has no bearing on the cost.
We have sailed on a 9 day itinerary and a 12 day itinerary, the cost of each of these were;
- 9 Day Cruise Parking £108.90
- 12 Day Cruise Parking £145.20
At first glance this may seem expensive, but it’s actually much cheaper than other modes of transport; especially if you have a family in tow. You can also travel at your leisure and not have to drag your cases around train stations and taxi ranks.
Relyon Parking for Dover Cruises
The only other option for Dover cruise terminal parking appears to be provided by Relyon. Although sites like Holiday Extras and BCP appear in the search listings, they are just booking agents for Relyon.
Unlike with CPS, the parking location is actually 10 miles from the Port of Dover, so there will be some transiting between their depot and your cruise ship. Relyon do offer a complimentary shuttle service from their site to your cruise terminal
When you arrive at their parking facility, their staff will help you transfer your luggage to their minibus ready for transfer. They will then take your keys and park your car for you on their secure site, while you are taken to the cruise terminal.
Upon arriving back at Dover cruise port, you will disembark the ship then collect your luggage. The Relyon shuttle bus will be waiting outside the terminal building and ready to take you back to your vehicle.
Transfers to and from the Cruise Port take approximately 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
Relyon Dover Port Parking Cost
Similar to CPS, cost of parking is dependent upon the length of your cruise. For a direct comparison we’ve provided costs based on the same itinerary lengths that we used for CPS; which happen to be the most common.
- 9 Day Cruise £72.50
- 12 Day £94.25
As you can see, their price is lower than CPS, which is perfect for those on a budget.
Dover Port Parking Tips
Having never parked up for a cruise in the UK before, we were a bit apprehensive as what to expect and what is best practice when leaving your car. So here are a few pointers to help and to make sure you don’t get caught out.
CPS take pictures of your car when you drop it off to cover their liability, but we are unsure about Relyon, as you are put on your shuttle bus almost immediately.
So we always advise taking some of your own pictures once you have removed your luggage, just to be safe. The pictures you should take are as follows;
- Front & rear of vehicle
- Both sides of the Vehicle
- Vehicle Mileage
- Fuel Gauge
When taking our pictures we always try and get the background or any company signage in the images, so there can be no disputing as to where they were taken. We take the pictures of the mileage and Fuel as soon as we pull up with the view through the windshield in the background.
This is pretty obvious, but you would be surprised by the amount of people who get caught out by this. So make sure you select as earlier time to arrive as possible, especially in peak season as there tends to be a lot traffic crossing the channel.
Rail strikes in and around London have become a regular occurrence and can lead to increased traffic. So it is definitely worthwhile checking and factoring strikes in to your travel time.
Book a Hotel
Due to us travelling from the North West of England, we opted to book a hotel the night before our Dover cruise; especially as we didn’t fancy a four to five hour drive first thing in the morning.
There are some nice and affordable hotels in the area, including a Best Western right next to Dover Cruise Port. We chose to stay nearby at the Imperial Hotel and Spa in Hythe, which was just a short drive to the terminal and avoided major travel routes. We were able to use our Expedia.com account and get the room at a discounted rate of just £67.
Should You Park at Dover Cruise Terminal?
The chances are you’ve spent a lot of money on your Dover cruise, unless you’ve used our tip for getting discounts with Carnival, which you wouldn’t want to waste by missing your departure.
Parking at Dover cruise port is also more reliable and cost effective than getting a train. Not only can a rail strike derail your cruise plans, two tickets priced up well in advance were working out at well over £200.
In fact we covered our CPS parking, hotel stay value and fuel for less than the cost of rail fare, so we would highly recommend using Dover Port parking services. It was also worth paying extra for the convenience of parking at the cruise terminal.
So if you want less stress and more peace of mind before your holiday, we highly recommend opting for parking, especially if you have to travel a fair distance beforehand.
Dover Port Parking FAQ’s
There are two options for Dover Cruise Port Parking. CPS offer at terminal parking, whereas Relyon offer parking in a secure location just outside of Dover.
The cost of Parking at the port will depend entirely on the length of your cruise. 9 day cruise parking is approximately £110 and 12 day cruise is approximately £145.
All Dover cruise parking needs to be pre-booked. There are no facilities to pay upon arrival.
Disabled parking is available at the cruise terinal, with disabled parking bays next to the terminal building entrance.
Dover cruise port do accept electric vehicles, but the are no charging ports on site. Off site parking companies do have a limited number of charging ports.
Parking is located directly next to the cruise terminal
If you choose to park with CPS, a shuttle is not required, as you can walk to the terminal from the drop off point. Off site companies do provide a free shuttle service before and after your cruise.
Parking at the port is extremely secure, with manned security gates at port entrance and 24 hour monitoring of terminal parking.