The Port of Dover has declared a critical incident as high levels of traffic caused coach passengers to experience lengthy delays.
It comes as operators P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways also reported delays to ferry and coach services, citing bad weather and hold-ups at French border controls as partly responsible for waits and queues.
DFDS announced on Twitter just after 9pm that the wait time for coaches is approximately seven hours from arrival at the port.
P&O Ferries tweeted that it was providing refreshments to coach passengers waiting at the cruise terminal and working on getting food and drink to passengers waiting in the buffer zone at the entrance to the port.
A spokesperson said: “The Port of Dover can confirm that a critical incident is under way as the port is currently experiencing high volumes of coach traffic due to the Easter holidays.
“Our present high volumes, combined with extended processing at border controls, has resulted in lengthy delays for coach passengers.
“The port, ferry operators and other partners are working hard to resolve the current issue.”
The port added: “We apologise for the inconvenience these delays may have caused to passenger journeys and thank all port users for their patience at this time.”
DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries also announced delays in their services.
A spokesperson for the operator said: “The queues at Dover today have been as a result of bad weather causing delays to sailings, combined with high volumes of traffic, and particularly coach groups.
“DFDS is working to keep passengers up to date via its website and social media channels, and is transporting passengers on the next available sailing once they have checked in.
“It has also been working with coach operators to speed up the check in process for coach passengers.”
Both DFDS and P&O have been publishing updates on Twitter.
P&O Ferries Updates tweeted at 7.40pm that the delay for coaches was due to “the time it is taking to process each vehicle at French border controls”.
“We apologise for the wait times and have put on an extra sailing this evening to help clear the backlog,” the operator added.
The company posted at multiple points on Friday: “We know it’s really busy today and we want you to know that we are doing all we can to get all customers on their way as quickly as possible.
“We know this isn’t the ideal start to your trip but our teams are ready to welcome you onboard once checked in.”
DFDS UK Updates tweeted at 7.07pm, that services to France were running with delays of “up to 2 hours due to the winds in the channel”.
On Friday morning, at 11.18am, the company tweeted that coach traffic was “very busy” with “120 minutes wait” at border controls.