Travelers to the UK faced delays of up to six hours on Saturday and Sunday as they queued at the port of Calais.
Ferry operators DFDS and P&O Ferries apologized on Sunday morning for long waiting times at UK border controls.
P&O said additional ships were being used for passengers who missed their departure, saying in a statement: ‘We sincerely apologize for the wait times at the Port of Calais today. Registered vehicles were unable to reach loading lanes due to border control queues. This then causes vehicles to back up in front of the check-in booths.
DFDS told passengers: “We expect long waiting times to complete checks, please take this into account when traveling to port, allowing for sufficient food and water breaks before departure. to arrive.”
Asked if they expected the delays to continue through Sunday, P&O added: “We expect the port of Calais to be very busy… There are queues of at least two hours to pass border control. Please allow as much time as possible for your trip.
Passengers shared photos on social media of long lines of cars full of families trying to get back to Dover ahead of the new school year starting next week.
Late on Saturday, a traveler took to Twitter in an attempt to contact the Home Office, saying: “A 260 minute wait at Calais port with two young children. Delayed due to a 10pm ferry, why were nine UK Border Force lanes closed!?!”
The delays come after a summer of cross-Channel travel disruption for passengers departing and returning to the UK.
Just last week, delays at passport checks in Calais, extra traffic arriving via the Channel Tunnel, as well as the breakdown of a Eurotunnel train, left thousands of holidaymakers stranded for hours, many complaining of “no water and bad toilets” as they waited in line.
In August, a Eurotunnel incident forced passengers to disembark – leaving 100 vehicles behind – and walk to a service train. Videos on social media showed holidaymakers walking through a secondary tunnel that runs along the 31-mile railway line between Britain and France, some with suitcases and dogs.
In July, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss blamed France for delays at Dover, citing shortages of French passport control staff, but others blamed bureaucracy caused by Brexit.
Boris Johnson later said: ‘These are not scenes which we believe are necessitated by leaving the EU’, and called on France to carry out only ‘sensitive’ border checks.
The Guardian reports on the delays showed that one of the main causes was the need for UK passport holders to have their passports stamped. Sources in Dover said this increased the average check time for each car from around 58 seconds to 90 seconds.
While Brexit came into force in January 2021, the impact on tourism on the continent only became evident when post-pandemic passenger numbers returned to normal volumes.