SeaSpeed used to operate services from Dover to Boulogne and Calais and Hoverlloyd operated from Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate to Calais. Hoverspeed has now been taken over by Norfolkline Ferries - http://www.norfolkline-ferries.co.uk/EN/
The company's history is thus closely linked to the development of the hovercraft, which was operated commercially by the company up to 2000. The merged entity operated initially a fleet of six hovercraft on services from Dover to Boulogne and Calais.
Hoverspeed pioneered the operation of the world's first vehicle-carrying catamaran in 1990, called the Seacat. The superseacat was also pioneered, which became the biggest monohull fast car ferry that operated in the waters of the UK. This commenced its operation between Dieppe and Newhaven in 1999. Nowadays, Hoverspped is operating a fleet of high-speed monohull superseacats and catamarans across the channel to Dieppe, Ostend and Calais.
Hoverspeed as a company carries over three million passengers each year and takes over 700,000 vehicles over the channel to Belgium and France. In 2001, they updated the superseacat fleet to make the crossing from Dover to Calais only 45 minutes, which is the fastest crossing on the English Channel, occurring up to 15 times a year.
It is also the only operator from Newhaven to Dieppe, with its fast car ferry service launched in 1999 and in 2001 they launched an 81 metre high speed ferry which took 2 hours to cross the channel, which allows them to operate three return sailing per day during the peak period of the year.
It was back in 1998 when Hoverspeed reinstated the link over the Channel between the UK and Belgium. Their new fast car ferry service from Dover to Ostend was run with two 81 metre seacats, which they called Rapide and Diamant, which took two hours to cross but operated up to seven return departures each day.
When a company makes as many journeys a day as Hoverspeed do, one can imagine the importance of marketing in ensuring that the vessels have enough passengers to justify the intensity of operation. Hoverspeed is not for those people who feel that the boat trip across is an important part of their holiday experience. Rather, it is for people who want to get themselves and/or their car over to France as quickly as possible.
Of course, the Eurotunnel journey is as fast, but it is underground with no ability to enjoy the view as you cross the sea (your vehicle is inside a train and you sit in your car or stand by it). So Hoverspeed market the speed of the crossing with the nice experience of being able to enjoy the views and the open air and offer some useful pricing deals should you book early.