Dover-Calais ~ two new ferry services

Norman Spirit, the first ship on the new DFDS Dover Calais route

This year it should be easier than ever to find a convenient way to cross the channel for your Sandboys holiday.  The Dover-Calais route is likely to be served by two new ferry companies, replacing the now defunct SeaFrance line.

The first new service to be announced is the DFDS Dover Calais service which will start on February 17.  DFDS already operate the successful and popular Dover Dunkirk service (formerly Norfolk Line) and are now teaming up with the French LD Lines on the shorter Calais route.

The new service will be operated by two French-flagged vessels, including LD Line’s Norman Spirit (pictured).

A second ferry will be added to the Dover Strait as soon as a suitable vessel becomes available, DFDS said in a statement.

“As we have also previously announced, we will hire 300 staff at sea and ashore in addition to those we already employ,” said DFDS. “The process of hiring people, many of these being former SeaFrance staff, has already started.”

DFDS are confident that the new joint-venture will not affect its existing service in any way.

Eurotunnel, the operators of the Channel Tunnel, have also announced plans to introduce a seaborne cross-channel service, with the acquisition of three, now out of service, SeaFrance vessels.

The former SeaFrance ships are large and comfortable, but their decor and furnishings had been allowed to become rather scruffy and neglected by SeaFrance , which had long been known for its poor standard of customer service and abysmal standards of essential navigation and safety equipment maintenance.

Eurotunnel hope to establish themselves as the majority partner in the venture that would revitalize the Calais-Dover route by employing a number of former SeaFrance employees.  For their customer’s sake, let’s hope they don’t bring the old SeaFrance culture with them.

More competition on the route should ensure keener prices, so we hope our Sandboys holiday customers will benefit from savings and a better service.

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