How to Get To Dover Cruise Port From London Airport and Central London (Updated 2024)

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Dover Cruise Terminal is located on the South Coast of England and is a popular cruise port with many cruise lines. But if you have never cruised from there before, or are unfamiliar with UK public transport, it can be challenging to figure out how to get from London to Dover Cruise Port.

While not as popular as its Southampton, neighbor, Dover Cruise Terminal is growing in popularity. Among the many cruise line using it are Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Princess, Holland America, Fred Olsen, Hurtigruten, Costa Cruises, Viking Cruises, Saga Cruises, AIDA, and TUI Cruises.

Don’t Miss The Ship – Always Travel the Day Before Your Cruise Ship Sails

London to Dover Cruise Port - Yours Truly on our way to Dover Cruise Port
Yours Truly on our way to Dover Cruise Port

If you have any more than a couple of hours of travel time or are reliant on public transport, I would always recommend getting to a location local to the cruise port the day before your cruise.

This just gives you that extra buffer in case there are any delays. Sometimes it only needs a couple of hours of delay and you can literally miss the ship!

Which Airport? London Heathrow or London Gatwick?

Most international cruisers will usually fly into London Heathrow or London Gatwick Airport. In fact, many cruise lines bizarrely label Dover Cruise terminal as “London (Dover)”, despite the center of London being 78 miles away and the fact that there is no such thing as a London cruise terminal.

So if you are flying into London you will need to plan your connections to Dover if you are not doing it through the Cruise company.

The easiest way to do this is to travel into Central London and then get a train connection to Dover from there.

London to Dover Cruise Transfer Service

In terms of convenience, this might always seem the easiest and most convenient option. However, it also most likely be the most expensive. 

Our most recent cruise from Dover Cruise Port was on the Carnival Pride. The official Carnival Coach transfer from Central London (London Victoria Coach Station), was going to be $109 / £87 per person, each way! So a return transfer with Carnival would be $436 / £348 for the two of us. In my book, that’s expensive.

So my suggestion is to look at other independent options. The best and most convenient route is to get from the Airport to Central London and then travel by train to Dover from there. The best train routes for Dover leave from London St Pancras International train station.

How to Get From London Heathrow to Central London / St Pancras Station

London to Dover Cruise port - The Route from London Heathrow to St Pancras International
The Route from London Heathrow to St Pancras International

The easiest way to get from London Heathrow Airport to Central London is via the Heathrow Express or the London Tube Network.

The Heathrow Express is the fastest way into Central London but costs £25 ($31.25)  per person each way. You can save money if you book Heathrow Express tickets in advance.  If you book in advance online you can get that fare down to just £5.50 per person ($7).

The journey time from Heathrow to Paddington is typically 15-20 minutes depending on what terminal your flight arrives at. The Heathrow Express leaves from Terminals 2,3 and 5. Trains leave every 15 minutes.

The Heathrow Express will take you to London Paddington Station in Central London.  Once you arrive at Paddington, you should look for the signs for the Tube network and take the “Hammersmith and City” Line to”Kings Cross St Pancras”.  This is a short 10-minute journey.

Once at Kings Cross St Pancras, you would follow the signs to St Pancras International Train Station. 

How to Get From London Gatwick to Central London / St Pancras Station

London to Dover Cruise Port - London Gatwick to St Pancras
London Gatwick to St Pancras

The quickest way to get is to avoid the Gatwick Express service and instead take the Thameslink service which will take you directly into the lower level of St Pancras Station. The cost for this is £13.70 ( $17). You can purchase these tickets here.

Staying in London for Sightseeing Before Your Cruise From Dover Port

Some cruisers might plan a few nights staying in a Central London hotel to do some sightseeing before the cruise. This makes a lot of sense. However, a lot of London City Centre Hotel accommodation can be underwhelming with very small rooms.

Look for well-known brand names that you can trust. Premier Inn and Travelodge are two UK hotel chains that offer excellent value and clean modern accommodation. 

Another option is to stay at any of the airport hotels, but they can be expensive due to their location. 

Some Recommended Sightseeing Tours in London

How to Get from Central London to Dover Cruise Port

The best route by train from Central London to Dover Cruise Port is from London St Pancras International to Dover Priory station. Dover Priory is the main train station in the center of Dover. 

As long as you are not traveling on a Sunday, you should be able to get the express train, which takes just over an hour compared to the normal train which takes two and a half hours. 

Pre-booked tickets for this service can be purchased at Trainline.com. The cost is around £12.20 ($15.25) per person.

Dealing With Luggage on Train Services

London to Dover Cruise Port - Luggage isn't a problem on the trains
We didn’t have any problems traveling with luggage

Reading a lot of the Cruise groups on Facebook, I know that everyone stresses about luggage and how they will cope with London Tubes and the trains.

Trust me, when we did it, it was a breeze! We had two large cases, two carry-on roller cases, and one cooler bag. We didn’t have any problems whatsoever.

Other Private London Cruise Transportation Services

If you have a small group, it can prove economical to hire a private transfer service. Uber XL from London Heathrow to Dover was £200 when I checked. For 6 people that works out at £33/$42 each.  Some might even include a tour via Dover Castle.

You could even join your Facebook Group for your specific cruise and organize private transportation for a group of 8 passengers via a private minibus or van. 

Local Accommodation in Dover Port

Dover is a relatively small English town, but it is also home to a very busy ferry port. It is therefore very well served with local accommodation all within a short distance from Dover Priory Train station. 

There is a Taxi rank right outside the station entrance. Budget around (£8 / $10)  for a taxi fare to a local hotel.

London to Dover Cruise Port - We've arrived!
We’ve arrived!

For our own overnight stay, we booked the Travelodge in Dover City Centre. This cost us $115 / £90 for the room. The hotel is very modern with a bright clean reception area and a Restaurant and Bar on the first floor.

We took advantage of their Two-Course Evening Meal offer which cost $32 / £25.50 for two people. Plus we indulged in the Hotels “unlimited” Breakfast Buffet offer for $22.50 / £18.

The hotel was nice and clean and the staff were very friendly. I would definitely stay there again if I had a cruise leaving from Dover.

Things To Do in Dover

Dover is a delightful little town, so you won’t be stuck for things to do in port. You can take a walk up to the famous “white cliffs of Dover”, or head up to Dover Castle. There are many quaint restaurants and type English pubs in town as well. 

Getting From Dover Town Centre to Dover Cruise Terminal

Dover actually has two ports. The ferry port and the cruise terminal. The ferry port is home to the famous “Dover To Calais” route which is the main ferry route between the United Kingdom and France. It is actually the busiest ferry port in the World. So make sure you do not confuse the two ports!

Now this is where it all can go a little sideways.  Although Dover is the busiest ferry port in the World, it is still a relatively small town. So Taxi services can struggle on busy port days. 

I know many fellow passengers on our cruise got fed up waiting and chose to walk from the Town Centre to the Cruise Terminal.  It’s just over a mile and takes about 25 minutes.

Eventually, after about 45 minutes of waiting, we managed to get a Taxi, and the cost was $12.50 / £10 including a decent tip.

So if you are coming into Dover the night before, plan accordingly and allow plenty of time to secure a Taxi.  Uber is available in the town, but the whole time I was waiting for our Taxi, the Uber app was unable to find us an available driver.

Therefore I would highly suggest pre-booking a taxi from your local accommodation to Dover cruise terminal.  Here are the local taxi cab numbers:-

  • Royal Taxis +44 1304 210000
  • A2B +44 1304 225588
  • Dover Taxis +44 1304 201915
  • Star Taxis +44 1304 228822
  • County Taxis +44 1304 208208
  • County Cars +44 1304 201010

Plus 44 (+44) is the UK international dialing code. To dial a UK number from a US Cell Phone, press and hold your “0” button on your phone until it changes to the “+” sign, then dial the number as shown above.

If dialing from a US landline, you need to dial the International Access Code (011), plus the Country code (44), and then the number. So for Royal Taxis, I would be dialing 011 44 1304 210000

You might see UK numbers listed without the +44 at the beginning. Instead, they would have a “0” at the start. So it would show 01304 210000. To dial any UK number, just drop that first zero and add the 44. Simples right 😉 

Dover Cruise Terminal – What to expect

London To Dover Cruise port - Dover Cruise Terminal
Dover Cruise Terminal

Dover Cruise Terminal is very different from some of the cruise terminals you may have seen before in ports like Miami, or Fort Lauderdale. It’s quite basic. But it is very efficient and you should be able to board your ship quickly, assuming your local cruise staff are equally as efficient.  Don’t arrive too early as I did not see any catering facilities there.

Arriving Back at Dover Cruise Port After Your Cruise

Despite the problems we had getting a Taxi TO Dover port, we did not have any problems at all getting a Taxi FROM the port. When we go off our ship at 8 am, there was a small queue of taxis waiting. We did hear of anyone having any problems.

A Word About UK Industrial Action on Train Services

Currently, the United Kingdom is experiencing regular Industrial Action (i.e. Workers go on strike to protest for fairer wages) on train services.  While this might be concerning, under UK laws, any industrial action must be advised at least 14 days before any action is taken.

Therefore you do get some advance warning. Additionally, if your cruise is less than 14 days, you will know for certain whether you will have any issues to contend with on your return.

Any planned industrial action on the UK Train network can be found here.

Total Travel Costs for London to Dover Cruise Port.

For the typical traveler flying in via Heathrow or Gatwick, your travel costs to Dover Cruise Port (including taxis to local accommodation, etc) would be around £45 / $56 maximum each way. 

For a family of four, that would save you over $400 compared to using the Cruise Line’s transfer services.

Getting from London to Dover Cruise Port Is Easier Than You Think

I hope this article has given you the information you need to plan your journey from London to Dover Cruise Port. It’s honestly not as hard as it seems. Just break it down into small segments and take your time to plan.

If I have missed anything or you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

We traveled from Central Scotland to Dover for our cruise on Carnival Pride to the Norwegian Fjords in June 2023. Traveling by train saved us a lot of money and it was much less stressful than we thought it might be. I would definitely travel that way in the future.

P.S. One Quick Request: CAN I ASK YOU FOR A TINY FAVOR?

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for CruiseNonstop.com you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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