Reopen the Harwich to Esbjerg ferry!


Are there any updates on the UK to Scandinavia ferries situation? The quick answer is no.

I’ve just returned from a 2,224 km drive from Norway and feeling not only tired but perhaps more upset than ever that there are no ferry crossing between the UK and Scandinavia.

One of the most popular posts on this blog is how you’ll get ‘from the UK to Norway by car and ferry’. And sadly, it’s not a happy reading. The only help you’ll get on milage is the crossing between England and France. The next possible ferry is from Germany or Denmark onwards to Norway or Sweden. But this still involves a good drive from Calais.

DFDS’ historic passenger ferry route between Harwich and Esbjerg was closed down after struggling for a long time with high costs, loss of passengers and freight being switched to road transport.

Our last loophole was the freight ship from Ingham to Larvik. But this option is now ruled out as well as DFDS has made a strict no passenger allowed on board policy. You can send your car as freight but this comes at a rather high cost as well as the task of bringing it to Ingham and collecting it in Larvik.

The best solution for all travelling from South England, going to Norway, Sweden and Denmark would be if the Harwich – Esbjeg route would reopen. This could save us a drive of more than 1000km per way! Some of you in the comments section on my old posts have asked me to start a petition. But as such a petition already exist and I belive we are stronger together, I suggest signing the ongoing petition Reopen a direct ferry from the UK to Denmark.

Let’s hope this petition will get the attention of DFDS and its CEO, Niels Smedegaard. And that DFDS will reconsider their routes for 2018!

40 Comments

  1. Please can anyone who remembers give me the time schedule of Harwich to Esbjerg Ferry. I travelled that route in August 1961 and am trying to recall when I left Harwich and when I arrived in Esbjerg.

  2. See above comment I fed up now I am able to have more leisure time that its has been made harder to travel to countries without flying. My husband will not fly and it means extra travel time and more expensive due to the fuel prices abroad. Yet drivers from aboard do NOT pay anything towards the cost of our roads. Please open this route up again as I have never been to Norway maybe they do not want us to come over I would say your not welcome. Or is it our country that do not want us to see how another country is so much better. Just get it sorted,

  3. Harwich to Esbjerg in the 70’s. What a fantastic 24 hrs. Disko dancing, bars, booze, lovely food, beautiful women, great storms, amazing seas, wonderful meetings of disparate peoples, and then the odour of the fish factories when you finally arrived in Esbjerg, what memories.

  4. I’m a Brit married to a Swede. We’ve been travelling to and fro for 31 years to visit family. It was a TOTAL DISASTER for us when they stopped the Esbjerg – Harwich route. It used to take us 4 hours to drive to Esbjerg. We now have to drive all the way to Hoek van Holland to get an overnight ferry – 11.5 hours + breaks. No mean feat for 2 pensioners! The DFDS boat was expensive but at least it was relaxing and meant far less driving. Better for us and definitely better for the environment . All support in the world to any initiative to start up Scandinavian-UK ferries once again.

  5. I agree…we loved having family holidays in Denmark using the Harwich link despite living near Immingham and seeing the huge number of DFDS freight ships arriving and departing daily! We now use the P & O services from Hull to Rotterdam or Zeebrugge for holidays, but sadly this means we have had to cut out Denmark because it means an overnight stay eg near Hamburg, in addition to the overnight ferry…losing an extra 2 nights of holiday.

  6. For many years my family and friends travelled from Newcastle to Scandinavia by ferry , I. Would support any route England or Scotland , hopefully once brexit has happened we may increase trade with our Viking friends again

  7. This is a long time ago, I know, but I was stranded in Edinburgh when the Icelandic volcano erupted in 2010 and I needed to get back to Norway. I booked the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam but there were problems then in getting from Amsterdam to Oslo – to travel via Deutsche Bahn meant waiting over a week and because of the number of countries I would need to travel through (and change train companies!) there were problems. I managed to change from the route to Amsterdam to get a cabin from Harwich to Esbjerg on an extra sailing (the boat should have been out of service for a week for painting, but cancelled this to take people who had been stranded back to Scandinavia). The ticket cost a fortune, but my travel insurance company helped. Then of course I had to get to Fredrikshavn by train and then Stena Line to Oslo. The journey from Edinburgh to Oslo took 60 hours. However, I was so glad of that route from Harwich – I DID ,manage to get back home so I can appreciate how important it is to have a ferry to Scandinavia from Britain, especially for people travelling with cars!

  8. We used the Espjerg Harwich ferry and return in 2013, never again will we use DFDS. It was expensive, the meals and cabin were mediocre and a cool tin of beer cost me seven quid on the grubby sun deck. the boat’s saving grace was the little bloke entertaining the kids as a magician and clown. If you want to get to the uk use a hotel overnight on the way down to Calais, you’ll save hundreds of Euros even taking fuel and hotel costs into consideration. This sea route deserved to close.

  9. Miss the crossing after using it every year since 1971. Must be about making money, can’t do for ‘fun’!!

  10. Ruten Harwich til Esbjerg må snart åpnes igjen. Har brukt den i mange år, alltid full båt.
    Skulle tro at det ville være Good business!

  11. We desperately need a ferry from Harwich/ Esbjerg, we need to see Family there that is the only way we can do it, miss it so much after travelling that way for many years, and them coming to us. It is such a clean and friendly country. Please bing ferry back

  12. Thank you Clive. There certainly is an interest in the petition and many people have already signed. But more are needed! So thank you for sharing! Best, Bianca

  13. The reason given to me by the Master of one of the DFDS Harwich-Gothenberg ferries was that the EU imposed draconian surcharges on the heavy fuel oil used by the ships. If true, that is a priceless example of left hand not even wishing to know what the right hand is doing. Instead we now have thousands of cars driving 2,000 miles each (return) with all their attendant pollution and traffic congestion. There’s a triumph for the Commission’s highly paid strategists. This ferry should be reinstated and properly marketed. The latter is crucial, although every time I travelled on that route, the ferry was fully booked. Lord knows why they lost money @ £1,000 a return trip

  14. Just shared it on a vw camper forum because so many of the members want to explore Scandinavia but its a long way around in an old VW camper! Hope it helps.

  15. I miss the ferries from Harwich to Germany (Hamburg) , Denmark and Sweden. I travelled on the last DFDS to Esbjerg and flew back to Stansted from Copenhagen. We used them for holidays in Sweden and Denmark.

    We do travel a lot on the last remaining ferry to Hoek Van Holland with Stena Lines. I really like those ships but as one message said above, I think they are getting quite expensive now considering Eurostar now run a cheaper service to Amsterdam and being foot passengers its just as easy to get a train to London St Pancras and change in Brussels. I hope Stena Line do not price themselves out of the market and stop the service because of the lack of passengers. It is mainly used by commercial vehicles from the flower markets in Holland and I hope they carry on using it to keep it running.

    Would the drive from Hook of Holland to Denmark/ Sweden be better than Calais. It would be a bit nearer I would think,

  16. My husband and I have enjoyed taking our car on cross-country skiing holidays in Norway for the last 18 years or so. After the Bergen ferries were removed and then the Harwich to Esbjerg crossing stopped, we have been happy to travel on the DFDS freight ferry to Brevik. It was really disappointing last year to find we could no longer travel on this, and further enquiries have shown that DFDS would be happy to take us but the problem is the UK borders Agency which, according to our MP who we asked about it, says there are not enough facilities at the ports to deal with non-lorry passengers.
    As there are only 12 cabins on each vessel and some of these will be occupied by lorry drivers, it seems to me that the numbers of private passengers is tiny and the resources involved to deal with them must be correspondingly small.

    Maybe if others approached their MPs this very annoying decision, which is making it far more difficult to visit lovely areas, could be reversed.

  17. I moved to Norway in 2008 and later that year the ferry from Newcastle to Stavanger stopped running meaning a huge journey to the south of England to catch the Ferry to denmark then driving over the bridge to Sweden and up to Norway. I tried all routes over the years and eventually as a single mum I just couldn’t manage it and returned to North Yorkshire. The thing that annoyed me the most was not the removal of the direct ferry to norway but that the newcastle to holland and the harwich to denmark ferries crossed paths meaning no matter which one I took I ended up having to drive extra miles and they wasted fuel crossing paths of ferries that should more practically have travelled to the nearest port across the north sea. I did use the dfds torline cargo ferry before my daughter was born but had to stop that as they had a rule no children under 5 and now as you’ve stated and I enquired last year they have stopped passengers on that ferry altogether. As a British woman who has a daughter with a Norwegian father this ferry issue is the absolute biggest issue in our lives, even the airpost isn’t really a viable option as that takes hours to reach, we can’t pack much in the way of christmas presents and all in all my daughters life has been negatively affected by the loss of these ferry options. To drive nonstop from my English base to the Norwegian one is 28 hours + 1.5 hours plus overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, I’ve done it about 15 times, that’s 15 too many !

  18. I used the Harwich – Esbjerg crossing several times every year and miss it a lot. There is a FB group campaigning to reopen the route.

  19. We used the ferry between the UK and Gothenburg for decades. Then feeling quite refreshed onwards by road for the journey to Norra Uppland. The children now all grown up remember the journey with affection.

    Ten years ago the irresponsible Jeremy Clarkson demonstrated how you could beat the boat by driving virtually non stop. Nowadays in our twilight years we find the prospect of driving around just too much and consequently would greatly welcome the return of the ferry.

    The budget airlines are fine but I do miss the romance and first sight of Sweden and the UK after the hours at sea.

    We would happily support any initiative to bring the ferry service back

  20. Just got a brand new camper last summer and desperate to visit Norway. Please make it easier by re-opening the ferry!

  21. I really want a ferry to Scandinavia re-instated. I would love Newcastle to Gothenburg! But any route will do!! I am scared of flying now . I’m signing …. we were on the Harwich to Denmark route in 2012 and it was really busy then so I don’t know how they can say they didn’t make enough money! ?! Anne

  22. Hi Roy. As I’m living in London a Newcastle to Esbjerg service would obviously be more helpful. But I do appreciate the Scottish connection to Scandinavia too. Both will save milage on the car, if not time or money. x

  23. Newcastle to Esbjerg would be a much better prospect for DFDS. They already have a staffed terminal at North Shields for their Amsterdam service. The catchment area of Newcastle includes the whole of the north of England and Scotland which now have no ferry connection with the Continent.

  24. Just to let you know, there is and never has been any passenger or freight link between the UK and Larvik, and I have no idea where Ingham is. The link that I believe you are referring to is between Immingham and Brevik, some 40-50 minutes drive from the port in Larvik (which does have a passenger ferry to Denmark) I know this as I live in the area, have used the Larvik to Fredrikshavn (Denmark) and the Brevik to Immingham routes. Incidentally, it’s not a DFDS change of policy that has resulted in them no longer taking passengers but a change in the port status at Immingham, the port is no longer allowed to process any passengers other than truck drivers so if you want to get this possibility reinstated it would require a change of UK policy, something that might be easier to achieve than the establlishment of an entirely new route (or reinstatement of an old one)

    The ferries really did kill their own market with extortionate pricing, in 2002 we travelled from Kristiansand to Newcastle and return for 5500kr (about £500), about 5 years later the price for our family had increased to 12500kr (about £1200) With the easily availability of budget airlines it became apparent to us that, despite the convenience of having one’s own car whilst visiting, the price difference was so great, even allowing for airport parking and car rental, that the convenience was just not worth the price. I will sign the petition as I live in hope but if the prices are still comparatively high to the alternative then I can’t see it being a viable business model. The hope is that they can grab a significant amount of the road freight market in order to keep prices under contoll.

  25. The freight ferries will not allow passengers with cars no longer. You can ship your car as freight, but you’d have to sort out a different form of transportation for yourself.

  26. I went on a cruise to Norway and am anxious to return to Bergen. I am unable to fly and a ferry was the only answer. Why, Why oh why are there now NO ferries at all from the UK to Norway. I just cannot believe that there is no requirement for at least one. I would be a foot passenger so that rules out freight ferries too apparently.

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