Hundreds of passengers faced a nightmare sea journey yesterday (Sunday, July 8) when the Dieppe-Newhaven ferry had to abort its crossing more than three-quarters of the way across the Channel.
It was forced to turn round in Seaford Bay and make it way back to the French port – a journey lasting more than seven hours in the heat.
Susan Butcher, from Heathfield, was aboard the 6pm sailing. She said: “The captain said there was a fault with the ramp at Newhaven. The ship’s crew was informed it would be repaired before the ferry docked. It was not.”
Mrs Butcher and her husband Mel disembarked back in Dieppe and drove to Calais where their tickets were accepted on board the Dover ferry. They then drove home to East Sussex from Dover.
She said: “Staff handled the situation well given the aggression, and near violence, of some British passengers.
“Foot and bike passengers had to fare as best they could in the small hours in Dieppe although some saintly motoring passengers offered lifts.”
Mrs Butcher continued: “The first we knew about the ferry problem was a captain’s announcement as the ship turned round in Seaford Bay. People who hadn’t heard the tannoy saw the sun suddenly coming through the opposite window!
“There was mayhem as people crowded the reception desk. Some, those with small children and older people, were offered cabins for the return journey.
“There were a lot of threats and fist waving. One woman said: ‘I would have been happy to go back to stay with my friends in Dieppe but I have to pick my cat up from Somerset tomorrow so I have to drive there from Dover.’
“We were asked if we could help foot passengers get to Calais - several did that but the others had to try to find hotel rooms in the city after midnight. French immigration officers had to check everyone’s paperwork, passports etc.
“We were told to present our sailing information to the check-in clerks at Calais. When we arrived, once again it was chaos at the port but I believe most vehicles made the 4.15am sailing. We were given email information to ask for compensation.”