- WHERE TO STAY
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CRUISE PORTS
National Express are the largest scheduled long distance bus operator in Europe and operate the only truly national network in England carrying over 18 million people a year. National Express are a large public limited transport company with operations globally.
Between Dover and London they operate a broadly hourly service scheduled to take just under 3 hours. These are not van shuttle services, with hotel drops and pick-ups, the London terminus is Victoria Coach Station. Vehicles are large 50 seat air conditioned buses with washrooms making around a dozen stops on the journey between Dover and London.
National Express Coaches are slower but cheaper than the alternative scheduled public transport, the Dover train services.
If you are from or going to a cruise terminal you will need a taxi between the cruise terminal and either Dover Town Centre or Dover Ferry terminal. The fare should be the same, so which one is best?
Dover Town Centre is the terminus of the service, from London the coach will first stop at the ferry terminal.
We would suggest using the ferry terminal. The town centre stop is not a bus station, just a bus stop in a scruffy part of town. There are not always taxi cabs in the immediate vicinity.
The ferry terminal is much more civilised with proper waiting lounges and places for a coffee, money exchange etc. There is normally a taxi cab waiting for you as well.
Shared shuttle from London to Dover cruise terminal
Adult: £179 pp
Maximum 3 drops per vehicle • Maximum 6 people per vehicle • Large air-conditioned vehicles with professional drivers
Victoria Coach Station is London's only coach station for scheduled services outside London. Victoria is a major hotel district and a pleasant place to be based in London. Buckingham Palace is right next door.
Victoria Coach Station is like a regional airport in terms of facilities.
There are no direct scheduled services from Dover to either Gatwick or Heathrow Airport.
National Express do operate frequent services between London Victoria Coach Station and Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted Airports.
You can buy a single ticket between Dover and these airports connecting at Victoria Coach Station.
You can carry two medium-sized suitcases - weighing up to 20kg (44lb) each - plus one small piece of hand luggage per person. Drivers loading the baggage do not weigh bags.
Customers will be permitted to pool their individual allowances if they are travelling in a group or as a family, but they must be travelling on the same ticket. Over this allowance and steep excess luggage charges kick in.
If you need to take extra luggage on your journey, this can be arranged either in advance or on your day of travel when you arrive at the coach station. However buying your extra your extra luggage online in advance is much cheaper.
Light weight manual wheelchairs and foldable pushchairs are taken subject to them being capable of being stowed in the luggage hold of the coach. Manual wheelchairs more than 20kg in weight and pushchairs not foldable are not taken. Powered wheelchairs are only taken by prior arrangement.
You may take your bicycle on your National Express journey, as long as it is designed to fold in half by means of a special link in the main frame and is carried in an appropriate padded bag or hard case, suitable for the purpose.
National Express offer an e-tickets service - the moment you make your reservation your e-tickets are e-mailed to you. You can pay using major credit cards.
With a ticket you have a reserved seat on the bus schedule of your choice, no individual seat selection can be made.
You can also buy tickets on the day from the bus station ticket offices, subject to seat availability. Those who have pre-booked have reserved seats and priority.
Especially in the Dover to London direction buses are often sold out from about 8.30am to late morning if a cruise ship is in port. National Express do not put on extra capacity once a schedule is sold out.
Advance purchase tickets on this route are often deep discounted and on-line also guarantees you a seat. With e-tickets, you simply print your ticket after purchase.
There are alternatives, m-tickets sent to your mobile incur a small surcharge, the same surcharge for collecting tickets from a ticket office. Tickets can also be mailed to you for a larger surcharge.
Important: When you use the National Express journey planner (banner link below) do not select Dover Cruise Terminal as a destination, no bus goes to Dover Cruise Terminal.
Select Dover Ferry Terminal or Dover Town Centre.
Similarly at Heathrow do not select Heathrow Terminal 2 or Terminal 3, again no Southampton bus visits either passenger terminal, select Heathrow Airport London (for T2 and T3). Very few National Express buses between Heathrow and London visit Terminals 4 or 5 either, you need to take the Heathrow Express train (free) between these terminals and the Central Bus Station in the middle of the airport.
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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.
The National Express coaches take best part of three hours to travel between Dover and London, on the other hand the trains between London St Pancras and Dover take just 65 minutes and don't have to contend with possible traffic delays. The only reason not to use the train is the price premium you pay for using the train.
The train also has an advantage in that there are three separate train services serving five major stations spread across London, including Victoria where the National Express coaches terminate. This means there is a good chance a London railway terminus for Dover is more convenient for your London accommodation.
Book in advance and save money on your train journey
• UK buses • Eurostar • Virgin trains
Not public transport, but a useful option offering prices approaching public transport with the convenience of door to door transfers between your cruise terminal at Dover and your hotel in Central London or Heathrow Airport.
In the London to Dover direction the bus picks up from hotels in all of the major hotel districts of Central London and Heathrow Airport where it will pick-up from a selection of Heathrow Airport hotels (but not passenger terminals) before going onto Dover with an optional stop at Dover Castle.
In the opposite direction the service takes the form of guided day tour. After leaving the cruise terminal at Dover the tour visits Canterbury and Leeds Castle before performing hotel drops in Central London late afternoon before going onto Heathrow Airport. For Disney Cruises the service visits the Warner Bros Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter, instead of Canterbury and Leeds Castle.
The vehicles used are normally full size 50 seat luxury air conditioned touring buses like that pictured.
£140 - Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath
£114 - Stonehenge & Bath
£65 - Stonehenge half-day tour
• Exclusive prices including admission to attractions • Air-conditioned tour coaches with free Wi-Fi