Posted May 12th, 2008, 01:02 PM
We'll only be in the city and don't know which card is best for our needs.
We need transportation to London from Heathrow, 3 days prior to cruise, then to Dover and return to London with 2 days post cruise, then back to Heathrow. What card is best for us?
, transfers to/from the airport: Do you think you want to do it by Tube? In order to do that, you really need to be able to pick up and carry all of your luggage in one go, to carry it up or down stairs to the extent of about one storey, and be able to move it several tens of yards.
If you can do the transfers by Tube, then you'd be looking at including that in your public transport ticket options.
Otherwise, there is the Heathrow Express (about £17 one way vs £2 or £3.50 on the Tube), taxis (about £50-ish per cab to central London), private car transfers, or shared transfers like dot2dot.
, transport within London. To what extent will you be using public transport in London?
Your first main option is to buy a one-day Travelcard for each day that you use public transport. They come in peak and off-peak versions, depending on whether you want to travel before 0930 each day. You also need to know which zones you need it for. One big advantage of doing this is that you can use it to get some 2-for-1 offers that may be of use to you. The main disadvantage is that once the money is spent buying the one-day Travelcard, it is spent even if you don't get that much value from the Travelcard because you end up using it less each day than you'd planned.
The second main option is a pre-pay Oyster card, which is a contactless smart card that stores money value, from which a deduction is made when you use it. Except that there is a price cap which is set at 50p below the appropriate price of a one-day Travelcard. If you use it less, you only pay for what you use. If you use it more, you will never pay more than the price cap - which is continuously calculated and adjusted to allow for the travel that you've done, the zones that you've actually travelled in, etc. I've never yet known the Oyster to let me down on this score. Buying a pre-pay Oyster requires a £3 deposit, but that and all unused credit can be easily refunded at any Tube station ticket office when you've finished with the card.
A third option for your stay would be a three-day Travelcard. But you will need to look at the prices of this, and the exact days and times on which you'd use the Travelcard and how much value you'd get out of it, and the prices of the alternatives, to see whether this is worth your while.
The pre-pay Oyster is valid for travel to/from Heathrow on the Tube - the appropriate amount is deducted when you use it. Travelcards are only valid for Heathrow if they cover the appropriate zones - so even if you're planning to use Travelcards, it may be worth your while buying a separate ticket for Heathrow so that you're not spending more an expensive all-zones one-day Travelcard just for that one journey in from the airport. But you have to look at the prices and do the maths.
Some threads to read:-
Oyster, Travelcard, London Pass options
London Multi-Day Underground/Bus Passes
Help Me!! Oyster Card-London
, Dover. As already said (and I think you already know anyway), this is by National Rail and you will just have to buy a separate ticket for this.