Dover cruise terminals

Passengers' guide to using Dover cruise terminals

Dover's 3 Cruise Terminals Fully Occupied
Dover's three cruise terminals fully occupied

The Dover cruise terminals are about 75 miles (120km) from Central London. It is one of three ports used by cruise ships visiting the London area. The others are Southampton and Harwich, both a similar distance from London than Dover.

The main function of Dover is as a ferry port connecting the UK and France and it is this trade that dominates the port. Outside the summer months visits by cruise ships are rare. The three cruise terminals are at the Western docks, the ferry port at the Eastern Docks. The town of Dover is in between. The busiest terminal that tends to be used by the larger cruise ships is Terminal 2.

The cruise calendar in Dover normally starts from the month of April until late September/October. Cruise Terminal 1 is set in the former Marine Railway Station. As a listed building, many of the original features are still evident and provide a flavour of a bygone era.

Disembarkation and embarkation at Dover

Dover Cruise Terminal 2
Dover Cruise Terminal 2

Most cruise ships arrive in Dover around 5.30am to 6am. The majority of cruise ships have assisted disembarkation starting about 7am with the last stragglers coming off around 9am. All cruise ships depart the same day they arrive, normally between 4pm and 6pm. Many passengers assume they can disembark much later than 9am. This is not normally the case, although Disney cruises are a notable exception to the rule.

Embarkation normally closes for departing cruises around 3pm to 4pm. Do check direct with your individual cruise, the above is just what happens on the majority of cruises using Dover. Some of the largest ships may delay docking to fit around local conditions.

Marshalling is well organised and you will not be pestered by touts for hotels and taxis. Porters will greet your vehicle immediately on arrival and take your luggage of you, make sure they're fully labelled! When disembarking they will wheel the luggage to your vehicle or taxi rank.

The taxi ranks outside each terminal are orderly and well regulated. Queues happen, but you will not have to wait too long. If you are using a cruise line coach transfer you will be escorted directly to your waiting coach, immediately outside the terminal. If you have pre booked a taxi or charter bus the driver will normally be outside the customs/baggage hall with your name on a board immediately on exiting into the public area.

Transfers between Cruise Terminals & London buses & trains

Southampton Station Taxi Rank
For longer journeys agree a price beforehand

No shuttle buses are provided between the cruise and the train station or London bus stops at Dover. You therefore need to get a taxi between the cruise terminal and the train station/bus stop. The fare should be around £8. Taxi cabs at Dover come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, the image tight is fairly typical. If you have two cases per person and more than 2 people you may end up with multiple taxi cabs.

It's just a 5 minute drive between the cruise terminals at Dover to/from the railway and bus stations and ferry terminal. The cruise terminals are far too far to walk with luggage from the train stations.

All fares within Dover should be on a meter. For longer journeys outside Dover never leap into a taxi without agreeing the price beforehand. Although drivers may offer to accept your Euro or Dollar currency it will almost certainly be at a very poor exchange rate. Only do so as a last resort.

The taxi rank at the cruise terminal is well marshalled. Porters from the ship will normally take your luggage as far as the taxi rank immediately outside the front doors of the cruise terminal. It is customary to leave a small tip with cab drivers, assuming they provide a good service.

Walking from/to cruise terminals

It is a couple of kilometres or well over a mile between the rail and bus stations and the cruise terminals. With luggage we would advise against walking. The taxi cabs really are not expensive and walking through the port is not the greatest way to end a cruise.

Alternative transport to/from London to cruise line buses

If you do not want to take the expensive transport offered by the cruise line, these are your options:

Embarkation normally closes for departing cruises around 3pm to 4pm. Do check direct with your individual cruise, the above is what happens on the majority of cruises using Southampton, yours may be the exception.

The cheapest option are the National Express scheduled buses. Full size 50 seat coaches with washrooms that depart from London's Victoria Coach Stations. They do not go to the cruise terminals, you will need a taxi between Dover Town or Dover Ferry Terminal and Dover cruise terminals.

  • The fastest option are the Dover train services, faster than a taxi. Several trains an hour run along three separate routes between Dover's Priory Station and around 5 major train stations in Central London. The fastest trains by far run between London St Pancras and Dover. Like the National Express buses you will need a taxi between Dover Priory Train Station and Dover cruise terminals.

  • The only door to door shared service between your hotel in London and the cruise terminal are the Dover Cruise Bus Shuttles. Shuttles pick-up and drop at all the major Central London hotel districts and Heathrow airport and only go to the cruise terminals at Dover. The service only operates on dates when a major cruise ship is in port. In the Dover to London direction there is also a choice of guided tour transfers in addition to the direct shuttle.

  • And of course the money no object option is a private car service door to door at a time specified by you. If you have a group there are vans, even coaches available.

Cruise ship


Visit Windsor on your cruise ship private transfer

Early morning disembarkation / late Heathrow flight solution

• Visit Windsor, only 15 minutes from Heathrow • Private cruise ship transfer • Secure luggage storage in Windsor • Private airport transfer from Windsor

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