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|Your options - easiest or cheapest transfer from Heathrow to Dover?
Dover is around 100 miles (160km) from Heathrow Airport. Because Heathrow is on the other side of London to Dover there are no direct public transport links. All transfers by public transport between Heathrow and Dover require a connection in central London.
Between Dover, Heathrow and central London there is a wide choice of transport, both public transport and private hire, though note there are no direct shared van shuttle style services available between Heathrow and Dover.
However there is a cruise bus that is a shared service with hotel drops and pick-ups but this only runs on dates when a major cruise ship is in port.
If you do not want to take the expensive transport offered by the cruise line, these are your options:
The cheapest option is the National Express scheduled bus. Full size 50 seat coaches with washrooms. There is no direct service between Heathrow and Dover, you have to make a connection at London's Victoria Coach Station.
At Heathrow the buses for central London do not pick up from individual passenger terminals. Instead you have to make for the Central Bus Station between Terminals 2 and 3.
At Dover they do not go to the cruise terminals, you will need a taxi between Dover Town or Dover Ferry Terminal and Dover cruise terminals.
A much faster but more expensive option is the Dover train service. 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. From St Pancras there is only the London Underground offering a direct service to Heathrow.
From other stations you either need to take the London Underground changing trains for Heathrow or get a taxi or Underground train to Paddington Station where the dedicated airport trains depart from. 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 Heathrow Airport and the cruise terminal are the Dover Cruise Bus Shuttles. Shuttles pick-up and drop at all the major Heathrow hotels 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.
Dover Cruise & Ferry Passengers
Dover cruise ship bus shuttle
Shared transfer tours
Private transfers & tours
Public transport to/from London
Transfer options Dover from
Port of Dover
Dover Cruise & Ferry
Cruise ship shuttle
Shared transfer tours
Private transfer & tours
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.
The cheapest option by scheduled public transport are coach services by National Express.
The National Express Coaches are much slower and much cheaper than the train services. They are modern air-conditioned buses with washrooms.
E-tickets are available online. Significant for people on cruises is the luggage allowance, 2 cases neither of which should weigh more than 20kg (44lb) before steep surcharges kick in.
In order to get to Dover you take one bus from Heathrow to Victoria Coach Station In London then change onto another bus going to Dover. Heathrow Airport has four passenger terminals, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The London buses depart from the Central Bus Station between Terminals 2 and 3. If you are using Terminals 4 or 5 you get the Heathrow Express train (free) to the centre of the airport where the Central Bus Station is located.
In Dover the bus terminates in Dover Town Centre after visiting Dover Ferry Terminal. The only option to get between either of these and the cruise ship is a 10-minute taxi ride.
The fastest way to travel between Dover and Heathrow by public transport is by train, but it is more expensive than the coach services. Like the coach service there is no direct train between Heathrow and Dover, you have to change in London. The change is also not as seamless as the bus connection at Victoria Coach Station.
There are several train lines between Dover and London, but the rail termini of these lines is not the same as for the dedicated airport trains to Heathrow that use Paddington Station. However, one station, St Pancras that just happens to offer the fastest trains by far to Dover has a direct London Underground link to Heathrow.
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 £9.
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.
Agree price: Dover taxis
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.
Of course private cars and larger vehicles are available. You select what time you want to depart. Vehicles all the way from saloon/sedan cars to large coaches are available. Note, with cruise transfers, more often than not it is the amount of luggage that determines the size of vehicle required, not the number of passengers.
With a clear road, Heathrow to Dover is about 2 hours but the journey involves going around London's orbital motorway/free way prone to heavy traffic congestion delays. It's quite important you budget adequate contingency time.
If the motorway is congested or there is an accident, alternative routes are much, much slower. Nearly all cruise ships have assisted disembarkation between about 7am and 8.30am. During weekdays, transfers to Heathrow have a high probability of road congestion delays as you circle around London up until about 10am.
If you have a group from family size to large groups, chartering your own vehicle with driver with or without professional guide can make a lot of sense.
The service is a true door to door service picking you up from your hotel at a time you want and a customised itinerary going exactly where you want to go at a pace that suits your group.
Vehicles can be anything from an MPV with driver guide to a full size 50 seat air conditioned luxury touring coach with professional guide. If you just want a driver with no guiding that's fine and will work out much cheaper too.
The guides and vehicles from the 8 seat vehicles up are professional full time tour specialists, not transport services that offer tours as a part time activity.
As a guide a full day tour (normally about 8 to 11 hours).