Calais protests chaos frustrates bank holiday Britons


British travellers have spoken of their frustration after a blockade at the Port of Calais disrupted bank holiday journeys for thousands of passengers.

Travellers at the ports of Dover and Calais were stranded for hours when movements at the French port were suspended because of the protests.

Ferry service operators P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways both said services have now resumed, but there were still delays to sailings.

The industrial action was carried out by disgruntled former staff of the now dissolved MyFerryLink, who used lifeboats to block ships from docking.

Cal Price, 20, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, had his P&O Ferries sailing delayed by around four hours as he tried to return home from a family holiday to France.

Mr Price, a University of Glasgow student, said: "We were on the boat for 15 minutes when it came over that there were lifeboats out striking.

"It was frustrating but we were just thankful that we weren't waiting out at sea. The captain said if it was up to him he would have gone but he had been denied permission.

"We just waited on the boat. We were allowed to go back to the car for bedding, and there was a free drink and meal offered if we wanted.

"The staff were really good. It was surprisingly peaceful on board but the staff helped in that. I didn't see anyone having a go. We were all in it together."

On Twitter, another traveller, Michael Ramsden, said he had been stranded in Calais for around seven hours without food, water or information.

He wrote: "Absolutely appalled at the port of Calais' inability to deal with a few French blokes and a dinghy."

Nicholas Bernier, a passenger on a ferry heading to France, told the BBC the service he was travelling on last night was stuck about two miles from Calais.

He said: "I'm roughly about two miles from the Port of Calais. We've got about three ferries standing still in front of us and what we were told is that the port is blocked by two lifeboats."

Richard Hill, in Calais, said his ferry was unable to leave the port.

"Authorities are saying to the captain that they cannot sail past the lifeboats. We are stuck on the ferry along with 2,000 others. Luckily we have a seat. The seating is very limited now and people are starting to get weary."

Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said she regretted that the port had been taken "hostage".

The workers were reportedly protesting over 600 potential job losses caused by the sale of the MyFerryLink service between Dover and Calais.

It was not the first time that former employees at MyFerryLink have orchestrated disruption this summer, causing delays and cancellations for British holidaymakers.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was visiting the port today, on what is already one of the busiest days of the year because of the British bank holiday.

The strike action has also coincided with the growing migrant crisis in Calais, which has caused travel chaos all summer.