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Q&A with Steve Newbery about Côte d’Opale

Côte d’Opale is our upcoming combined passenger and freight ferry that is destined for the Channel. It is currently under construction at the AVIC WEIHAI SHIPYARD CO LTD in China. With the launch getting closer, we thought we would catch up with our Onboard Commercial Director, Steve Newbery, to find out more about this ship which will be setting sail with us this summer.

What are you most excited about for the new Côte d’Opale ship? 

I’m excited about the impact it will make to our customers. With additional freight capacityspacious interior restaurants, new Duty Free shop and relaxation areas, it will be a fantastic ship for both our freight and leisure customers.

What makes this different to the Calais Seaways which she is replacing? 

The Côte d’Opale is much longer in length. In fact, it will be the longest ship on the channel, meaning freight capacity will be significantly improved. Plus, there will be plenty of room to relax, have a bite to eat and take in the sea air on deck. The Côte d’Opale has half the number of engines as Calais Seaways so will be much more environmentally friendly with improvements in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions compared to the Calais Seaways. She will also offer a very smooth crossing with her active stabilisation.

What can passengers expect to find onboard? 

The Côte d’Opale will have the largest Duty Free retail space on the channel with 1100 square metres.  Our onboard shop will offer Duty Free savings of up to 50% on a range of premium perfumes, wines, spirits and more! 

It will also offer a choice of three restaurants with various dishes, some inspired by the Côte d’Opale region itself.  

As our ferries run 24 hours a day, there will also be dedicated spaces onboard for passengers to relax. Our Premium Lounge will offer an exclusive, laid back space for passengers to spend a peaceful crossing with scenic sea views and complimentary refreshments. But I think everyone will notice the relaxing space onboard available to enjoy the journey.  

Not forgetting our freight drivers, the Road Kings lounge will offer complimentary dining, showers and a place for drivers to rest.  It will be the largest Road Kings and provide everything our valued drivers need to relax and refresh.  

Describe the Côte d’Opale in three words. 

Spacious, modern and exciting.

When will the Côte d’Opale set sail? 

The Côte d’Opale will set sail this summer, just in time for those long-awaited summer holidays, and all the DFDS Channel team look forward to welcoming her.   


Steve Newbery

Great team effort despite adversity

By Wayne Bullen, Freight Sales Director.

As highlighted by Søren and Peder, it was great to see the strong freight performance in all areas of our business during December, primarily as a result of stockpiling as the Brexit transition period came to an end. In addition to this and looking back on a very turbulent year (with challenges we are all too familiar with), I am very proud to say that on the Channel we finished the year shipping a total of almost 1.2 million freight vehicles, which was 6,000 units ahead of our 2019 performance.

Like many colleagues within DFDS and despite the various challenges I do not recall a single day where our focus and determination were anything less than 100% and now we can clearly see the end results of our combined efforts. I felt it appropriate to take this opportunity to thank the Freight Sales, Customer Service, Operations and Onboard Teams for their essential contribution towards this achievement.

It goes without saying that this success does not compensate for the fall in passengers which was of course an unfortunate consequence of Covid-19 but with the same level of commitment, passion and effort we will achieve optimum results during 2021 and combine this with the hopeful recovery of the important passenger trade to get back to where we all deserve to be.

Côte D’Opale vs Calais Seaways

A quick look at how the ferries compare with each other.

As we look forward to welcoming the Côte D’Opale this summer, here is a quick look at how she compares to the much-loved Calais Seaways which she will replace on our Dover to Calais route. 

Built in 1991 and upgraded in 2013, Calais Seaways is a familiar ship on the Channel routes. She has seen families embark on unforgettable summer holidays, couples set sail on memorable minibreaks and countless truck drivers bring vital supplies to our shoresUnfortunately she is reaching the end of her life and will be replaced with the Côte D’Opale. 

The familiar restaurants, Premium Lounge and children’s play area will all be available onboard, with a refreshed interior design. A brand-new Duty Free shop will be open too for our customers to browse and indulge in some retail therapy. We will also have our dedicated Road Kings area exclusively for truck drivers so they can enjoy a meal, a rest and a shower before their onward journey. 

The Côte D’Opale will boast more space onboard for customers to relax, refresh and refuel before their arrival in France and she will be more environmentally friendly too. Her diesel engines will use less fuel and her sleek hull design will drive two propellers that give the ship a service speed of 20-22 knots. 

Take a look at the specifications below to see how the two ships compare.  

Côte D’Opale well underway

This year we will welcome the Côte D’Opale into the Channel family and with just a few months to go until her maiden voyage, she is coming along nicely.

Construction started in May 2019 at the Avic Shipyard in Weihai, China, and there is just 15% of the build left until she is ready! Around 300 people are working on the ship to prepare her for the sea trials in May, after which the Côte D’Opale will be ready to welcome you onboard. With her 214 metres length and the capacity for 1000 passengers, she will be the longest ferry on the Channel and will welcome both freight and leisure passengers.  

The Côte D’Opale will have the largest retail space of all our channel ships stretching 1,100 square metres in an open plan conceptA large atrium with a bright skylight will be the centrepiece of the retail experience onboard. There will then be separate ‘wings’ for each product category including perfume & cosmetics, beer, wine & spirits and gifts & technology. Duty Free will add more excitement to the shopping experience, with huge savings on premium products available onboard. 

Steve Newbery, Onboard Commercial Director, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming the Côte D’Opale to our channel routes this summer and can’t wait to welcome customers onboard when it’s safe to do so. With shopping and dining experiences to rival large shopping centres or airports, the ship will offer more space, more choice, and a unique travel experience for our valued customers. 

Take a look at how our ship is shaping up and how our retail area onboard will look! Also see how she compares to Calais Seaways in this article.


The onboard shop will have a light, airy central atrium with a glass roof, which will flood the area with light. 



One section of the shop will be dedicated to beers, wines & spirits, with great savings on premium brands.  

 


A recent photo from the building yard shows the shop skylight being fitted.

Visby welcomes first guests

Our new Ireland-France route is based on the transport of driver accompanied trailers. The newly chartered ferry M/S Visby can, with her 1,800 lane metres and 92 cabins with private facilities, accommodate up to 120 trucks, trailers, and drivers.

For Visby’s very first roundtrip on Rosslare-Dunkerque, DFDS had prepared gift bags for the first 10 drivers to boardThe gift bags that were delivered to the drivers cabins contained a mixture of DFDS branded goods from caps, travel mugs, key rings and face covering etc. 

“We had the pleasure of meeting a number of enthusiastic ROADKINGS (DFDS’ special driver service concept) onboard our first departure from Dunkerque to Rosslare, including Patrick O’Sullivan from B. Dillon International Transport LTD. Patrick was extremely excited about our new that will cut his travel time from Ireland to Belgium from 5 days to 3 days. We should expect to see him onboard up to twice a week,” says Steve Garner, Head of Customer Experience. 


Steve Garner, Head of Customer Experience, BU Channel (right), and Patrick O’Sullivan from B. Dillon International Transport LTD.

Praising the customer service and accommodation

“Patrick had a great experience with our service. He found that the check-in and loading experience in Dunkerque was seamless and stress free, and that DFDS’ port personnel were friendly, professional and informative. He was also impressed with the warm welcome and meet & greet from our crew. When he arrived in the passenger accommodation, the information provided at Guest Information and the new welcome onboard letter which explained the mealtimes and service provided.


Laura Charlton, Customer Experience Specialist, was ready to answer questions if needed. She also presented Patrick with the gift bag.

He also liked that he was escorted to his cabin by a member of the crew and was extremely impressed with the onboard food. As he explained, wet food is extremely important for a driver and the Irish Stew was perfect for a good evening meal. He was equally pleased with the variety and quality breakfast, lunch and dinner on day two. 

“He only missed some cereals and Irish Jams onboard for his breakfast, and as Rob Bately from the project team and crew already acted on this, we will be able to meet his needs next time he travels with us,” says Steve. 

Patrick found the onboard areas comfortable and perfect to relax and chat with other drivers during the crossing. 

“I get to meet and spend time with a lot of our wonderful customers, but Patrick really was a superstar, his enthusiasm and feedback regarding our new service was extremely encouraging and I really do hope I have the opportunity of meeting him onboard again. To thank Patrick for his valuable feedback we presented him with a DFDS fleece, cap and a bag full of DFDS treats.”


M/S Visby in Dunkerque.

Inside BU Channel 

How a new BU head experienced a Christmas crisis 

By Filip Hermann, Vice President & Head of BU Channel.

BU Channel is a busy place. There is nothing we haven’t seen, from exhausted migrants hiding in trailers to armed robbers on the run. If not daily then at least on a weekly basis, we experience something unusual. However, this Christmas was extraordinary by all standards. 

Leading up to Christmas, we were experiencing freight volumes like never before. Christmas is always busy because of the seasonal peak. But this year Brexit was looming only a few days after Christmas leading to massive stockpiling, extensive media coverage and long queuein Dover as well as in France. In fact, we carried 35% more trailers on the Dover routes and 50% more trailers on Dieppe-Newhaven route compared to December 2019. 

December was also an unusual month in other terms. Corona restrictions in the UK was tightened on December 2 because of a mutant strain of COVID-19 found in Kent, where Dover is located. As the new mutant strain continued to spread, we decided to close the Whitfield office completely (again) and strengthen health precautions. 

Despite these unusual and concerning circumstances, a tired and exhausted organisation and the management team prepared for a well-deserved Christmas day – the only day of the year where the ports are closed, and we don’t operate 24 hours a day. But then the Christmas crisis began. 

 

December 20 

The day started like the previous day with volumes building up in the ports already early in the morning. Truck drivers in Dover, anxious to get back to the Continent to spend Christmas with their families and their colleagues on the French side, were waiting to deliver the last Christmas food and other goods to the warehouses in the UK. 

But suddenly everything changes. The French government announces a 48-hour ban on entry to France from the UK for passengers as well as freight drivers. The surprising and disrupting announcement catches everyone by surprise and causes a rush to the Port of Dover. Everybody wants to get on the last vessels out of the UKReliable information is difficult to obtain because neither local nor national authorities know exactly what is going on. The last vessel for Dunkerque and Calais disembarks shortly before midnight but because of a local interpretation of the ban we unfortunately have to disembark all our customers in Newhaven again before everything turns quiet. 

 

December 21 

Traffic has been building up overnight. More trucks have arrived at the entrance to the ports and the queues are now many kilometres long. We can still ship trucks from France to the UK, but hauliers are concerned about stranding their trucks in UK because of the travel restrictions. Nobody knows how long the ban will last. We are also able to send unaccompanied trailers to France, but the queues outside the ports make it difficult for our customers to drop the trailers off and to pick them up. Politicians are working around the clock to solve this diplomatic and potentially humanitarian crisis. 

 

December 22 

Finally some good news. The band on freight drivers will be lifted at midnight if proof of a negative COVID-19 test can be presented. But how do you test thousands of drivers parked on the roads all over Kent? Manston airport turns out to be the UK governments solution. Testers from all over the country arrives to the area and prepare themselves for a difficult job over the next couple of days. We were told testing would start the next day at 6am. We prepare for a busy Christmas, but we have enough time and capacity to clear everything before the port closes on Christmas day. Or so we thought. 

 

December 23 

It’s 6am but nothing happens. No truck drivers with negative tests show up at Port of Dover. In fact, the roads are so gridlocked that it’s impossible to get anywhere near the port. The day shift has to take the train to work and walk the last couple of miles. The office manager has to get police escort only to return home again. Supplies cannot get to the port either raising concerns about us having enough food onboard. Tension starts rising at the entrance. Civil disobedience breaks out and the police has to remove trucks from the roads to make access for the few drivers that have already been tested. 

 
Picture of the entrance to port of Dover on December 23 

But progress is slow. More and more trucks try to make it to Manston airport to get tested, but that only gridlocks the roads even more. At the same time, we are not able to disembark the vessels from France in Dover anymore because the exit from the port is blocked by angry and tired truck drivers who thought they were first in line but now have to go back in the queue to get tested. Only with the help of our suppliers do we manage to get our supply chain for food for the vessels up and running again. This time on the French side. 


Aerial photo of trailers waiting to get tested at Manston airport 

By the end of the day, when we tally the numbers of trailers we have sent to France, we can’t count to more than 150. A disaster for us and for the thousands of truck drivers stuck in their vehicles on the third day. 

 

December 24 

Traffic starts to flow a bit better but it’s still slow and the ships are not full. The majority of the approx. 10.000 trucks are still waiting to go home and have by now realized that they will be spending Christmas at a deserted airport in Kent. 

The management team discusses the possibility of operating on Christmas day due to this extraordinary event. It would be the first time in history and something that would require many different stakeholders to collaborate and rely on each other. Political pressure increases from all sides. Our own CEO even receives a personal request from Audina Valean, the European Commissioner for Transport and I have several calls with the UK government. There is a lot of opposite information flowing around on social media from various politicians but around noon we finally get the official confirmation from the Department of Transport that all the relevant authorities will remain operational on Christmas day. 

With short notice, the BU Channel leadership team initiates an intense campaign to find approx. 400 volunteers among our already tired and exhausted colleagues to carry out this extraordinary operation on Christmas day. At a time where the political uncertainty makes their situation just as unpredictable and exposed as the drivers’. We quickly find enough hard-working colleagues who are ready to sacrifice their own Christmas for the wellbeing of our customers. It’s not longer a question of Christmas or not – it’s a humanitarian crisis. 

 

December 25 

Crew and onshore colleagues meet in to work on Christmas morning and the first sailing departs full at 8am. Drivers are extremely happy for the chance to finally go home and show their appreciation to our colleagues in the check-in booths and on board the vessels. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces. This day will be remembered for a long time on BU Channel. 

 

December 26 

Normal operations resume but the queues are still long. At the end of the day, we are finally able to clear most of the backlog from Manston and the roads in Kent. Everybody is relieved and the praises start coming in from all sides. We get official emails from Ports and other authorities and even a personal DFDS greeting and thank you video from the UK minister of Transport. 

 

What did I learn? 

First, I learned that BU Channel is an amazing organization. From the leadership team that worked tirelessly through Christmas to the staff in the check-in booths and the crew onboard that stood up to the challenge when asked to help the truck drivers home for Christmas and solve the pending humanitarian crisis. Second, I learned that you should be careful about using the word “usually” in the same sentence as BU Channel. I was told Christmas was the quietest time of the year. But things are never as they used to be when you transport more than a million trucks and five times that number of passengers per year. Finally, I learned how important the work that we do in BU Channel is to the UK. It was amazing to see that when all external disasters hit us simultaneously on the one day we were not supposed to operate, everything grinded to a hold. Prime ministers got on their phones with presidents to get the wheels turning again. Civil disobedience breaks out and the military is deployed. I can’t wait to see what BU Channel has in store for me in 2021 and beyond. Tomorrow is the first day post-Brexit and the day we start our new route to Ireland 

Free sailings for neighbours

DFDS offers people of Kent one free post-Covid weekend return trip to recognise extraordinary patience of Kent residents.

Dover is placed in Kent, where our many neighbors have experienced several traffic disruptions during the pandemic. Now, DFDS has decided to offer free ferry trips tKent residents once current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Filip Hermann, Vice-President & Head of Channel Routes for DFDS, said: “Our employees stepped up and helped us to get more people home by running extra sailings over the Christmas period. Local people also showed great kindness and community-spirit, coming together to help the drivers stuck in Dover, at Manston and on the M20, despite the disruption their communities were caught up in. We’d like to express our sincere thanks to them by offering them the opportunity to travel with us free for a weekend break after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.”

Up to 2,000 Kent residents in total can travel for free under the offer, travelling out on a Saturday and returning the next day. The free sailings will be for a car and up to four passengers and will be made available in 2021, as travel currently remains restricted to essential journeys only under the Covid-19 tier system. 

DFDS will inform the Kent residents about how to claim the free crossings once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Covid-19: Minister thanks DFDS

Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation & Maritime.

Shortly before Christmas, the French Government closed the border for passengers and lorry drivers entering the country from the UK because of a mutant coronavirus found in the UK.

Due to an agreement with the UK, the borders opened again on Tuesday 22 December for passengers and drivers who could present a negative Covid-19 test. However, only 144 lorries made it to the ferries before Christmas as the lorries were prevented from getting to the port because of logistical problems caused by testing and blocked roads. This meant that about 4000 vehicles and their drivers were caught up on the M20 motorway and the former Manston Airfield where lorries were stacked.

Filip Hermann, Head of BU Channel, says: This was a terrible situation for the drivers, not least because the port is normally closed on 25 December. But after having received requests from the UK Government and the European Commission at noon 24 DecemberDFDS decided to keep sailing. This was only possible because crew members and operational staff ashore voluntarily and nearly immediately decided to work when they should have been enjoying Christmas with their families.

The extra sailings did help, and today 27 December, the number of waiting lorries is down to a few hundred.

I am personally moved by the dedication of our colleagues to make a real difference for our customers and the communities of which we are part, and I thank everyone working in BU Channel for stepping in at extremely short notice to help the drivers get home and ensuring the flow of goods,” says Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS. 

Minister thanks on Twitter 

The UK Government is still advising lorries not to Come to Dover unless they have a negative Covid-19 test, and yesterday, on 26 December, Robert Courts, Maritime Minister, sent our colleagues a thank you for their efforts by means of a video on twitter, which you can watch here.

Newhaven and Newcastle were also affected by the situation and had to work with freight customers. 

DFDS continues operating its Channel ferries during Christmas to support freight drivers

Since France opened its borders for freight drivers with a negative Covid-19 test as at midnight on Tuesday, DFDS has had capacity to ship up to 4,000 trucks across the English Channel on its Dover-Dunkirk and Dover-Calais routes. However, due to the logistical issues that have prevented freight getting to the port, we have unfortunately only been able to transport 144 trucks out of Dover.

We understand that this is very disappointing for drivers who are currently stuck in queues or at the Manston lorry park, and the company has already added extra sailings to its schedule today to help more drivers get home.

Christmas Day is the only day of the year that the port of Dover is closed. However, at noon today we have received a formal request to operate sailings from the UK government and authorities in the European Union to help to resolve these extraordinary set of circumstances. We are in the process of finding volunteers in our staff who are able to work at short notice, so we can offer up to 30 sailings on 25 December in addition to the extra sailings performed on 24 December.

“In this way, DFDS is playing its part to try to clear the backlog of trucks and our number one priority is the welfare and repatriation of everyone who is dependent on its services. We appreciate the generous support of our colleagues who are leaving their own families on Christmas Day to help the drivers come home,” says Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS.

On those extra sailings, DFDS’ six Channel ferries will only carry trucks from Dover to France and bring no cargo back to the UK.

Change of guard in BU Channel

Filip Hermann and Kasper Moos

As we announced before the summer, BU Short Routes and Passenger was split into BU Channel and BU Group Passenger, and we also announced that Filip Hermann was to take up the role as VP of BU Channel. He follows Kasper Moos, who will focus fully on leading BU Group Passenger through the COVID-19 crisis and regaining growth after the pandemic.  

On Monday, the change of guard was marked by a virtual staff meeting on Microsoft Teams. Kasper gave a briefing on last week’s DFDS annual management conference and explained the new separate organisations of BU Channel and BU Passenger.  

Kasper was followed by Gemma Griffin who updated everyone about the work on diversity and inclusivity, remote leadership, and support for those working from home.  Wayne Bullen then talked about how  freight volumes are obviously challenged by the COVID-19 virus, but stated that as a team we had managed to outperform the market and the competition, however despite this achievement it did not compensate for the  significant loss of passenger volume or revenue. 

Chris Parker then showed the development over the year for passenger cars. The figures clearly demonstrated the huge effect of the virus as 2020 saw only about a third of the cars that were carried across the Channel when compared to 2019.  

Thank you and farewell 
Kasper used the occasion to say thank you and farewell to everyone and to welcome Filip as new Head of Channel. He didn’t get the last word though as the thanks were returned by Gemma to all the staff ship and shore for their hard work in extremely challenging circumstances over the last 6 months and Wayne to Kasper on behalf of all of the Channel Team for his support and leadership over the past 4 years. 

“BU Channel is blessed with a remarkable leadership team who know their business, their customers, ships and people inside out. They will know how to support Filip, so together they can bring the business safely through even major challenges such as the current second wave of COVID19 and the end of the Brexit transition period,” says Kasper. 

“I am also extremely pleased that I will continue working with BU Channel through our collaboration on the passenger business and look forward to a future when travel restrictions are a thing of the past and travelling is flourishing again.”  

Filip to visit offices, ports and ships 
Filip, who is now officially head of the Channel, said that he will now consider himself as training on the job and spend time meeting as many colleagues as possible and collecting everybody’s good ideas. Over the next few days, he will visit colleagues in Dover, Dunkerque, Calais and Dieppeand the vessels  

“There is enough to do. We need to navigate business safely through the COVID-19 storm, prepare for Brexit and get ready to receive and deploy our new ferry, Côte D’Opale, Filip said.  

Filip added that he has now moved with his family to Canterbury, about 25 kilometres northwest of Dover, where he and his wife are expecting their second child to be born soon.  

Passenger/BU Channel: DFDS adapts to Covid-19

On 29 June, DFDS announced several cost reductions measures to adapt to the new market conditions brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic. DFDS anticipated that this would in total impact about 650 colleagues across the DFDS organisation.

On 21 July, we announced that we would start a consultation process with proposals to reduce staff in the passenger offices in Ijmuiden and Newcastle. 12 colleagues from the Care Centre and Sales operations will sadly leave our Ijmuiden office.

We are currently consulting with employee representatives on the 30 positions across the passenger agency function in Newcastle that are at risk of redundancy.

In Hamburg on 4 August we announced our intentions to downsize our passenger office there and individual consultations have commenced with the 9 colleagues who are unfortunately impacted.

And today, we announced the start of a consultation process in Dover and France, outlining proposals for a reduction in staffing levels onboard the vessels operating between Dover to France and within the Dover, Calais and Dieppe sites.

A total of 79 roles on the company’s three UK ships and in its offices in Dover are affected.

A total of 142 roles on French ships on Calais-Dover, Calais port and the offices in Calais and Dieppe are affected.

Ashore in Dover, this will affect:
HR & Crewing
Operations Support (Terminal Control)
Freight Reservations and Freight Administration
Onboard Services
Technical Organisation

All colleagues impacted have been contacted by their Manager and HR to advise what the next steps in the process are.

We very much regret that it has come to this. Many colleagues have worked hard under difficult conditions to keep business running and help our customers. However, the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting drop in passenger demand across all routes have made changes to the company’s structure necessary to reduce costs and protect jobs in the future. But we will work closely with staff representatives to find measures to mitigate the impact of this situation for our affected colleagues.

Kasper Moos, VP of Short Routes & Passenger
Gemma Griffin, VP of HR & Crewing

Children’s Pirate Island comes to life on Dover – France routes

Ali Kazam and his friends Jack the Pirate and Sam the Turtle are entertaining our younger guests on the channel in a new initiative

 

Over the busy holiday season we have lots of families on board our ferries, and for that reason we have a number of services on board our ships especially designed for our junior guests, from the new Pirate Island Zapper interactive game and the children’s play area to specially-created menus in our bars and restaurants. To compliment these fabulous services, we have brought Pirate Island to life on board selected Dover – France sailings.

Laura Charlton, Customer Experience Specialist for BU Short Routes & Passenger, says: “Our junior customers really love our Pirate Island brand, and this year we created a new team of Customer Entertainment Associates to work on board and ashore to bring Pirate Island to life. The team is creating great interactions with the kids and parents, dressing up as Jack the Pirate, Sam the Turtle and Ali Kazam, with customised selfie boards for each character, and colouring-in sheets. Many thanks to our new colleagues for creating a fun and happy environment, and to Laura Thomson, Content & Design Specialist, for arranging for the fabulous selfie boards and stands for the pop-up area.”

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager BU Short Routes & Passenger, says: “This is just fantastic. I cannot thank Laura and her team enough for all the hard work that has gone into getting this new initiative up and running so quickly. It was an absolute privilege to be part of the first crossing, seeing the joy the extra entertainment brought to our guests. A special thank you to our fantastic crew on board our vessels and to the Dover Operations Team for helping us facilitate this.”


Pictured are Steve Garner, Laura Charlton, Scott Boyton (Business Leader Dover Seaways), Frazer Rickatson (Customer Entertainment Associate), Ali Kazam and the Moss Family, who thoroughly enjoyed the Pirate Island characters and activities onboard

Ferry Division: new BU Short Routes & Passenger

The routes Dieppe-Newhaven, Dover-Calais, Dover-Dunkirk, Copenhagen-Oslo and Amsterdam-Newcastle will along with BU Group Passenger be combined in the Ferry Division’s new BU Short Routes and Passenger that will be headed by Kasper Moos.

 

BU Group Passenger, BU Channel and the Oslo-Copenhagen route will all be gathered in a new Business unit, BU Short Routes & Passenger, which will be headed by VP Kasper Moos. This unfortunately means that VP Brian Thorsted Hansen will leave DFDS.

Since we established BU Group Passenger in 2017, everyone has been working hard to make the new business unit a success. Whilst introducing the new ways of working, our BU Group Passenger colleagues have succeeded in fulfilling many of our ambitions and proven the value of a global sales organisation

However, we have also seen some challenges that have affected sales and business in some areas, not least as regards the link between local business and the global organisation. Therefore, we need to strengthen our focus on local needs, and the close cooperation between Ships, Sales, Marketing and Yield & Revenue Management.

With this aim, we have decided to bring almost all of our passenger activities under a single management by combining BU Channel (including Amsterdam-Newcastle), Oslo-Copenhagen and BU Group Passenger into a new business unit called BU Short Routes & Passenger.

BU Short Routes & Passenger will be headed by VP Kasper Moos.

As BU Group Passenger is merged into the new Business Unit, this unfortunately means that Brian Thorsted Hansen will leave the company. Brian has done a great job under difficult circumstances, and we owe him thanks for his contribution to DFDS. I wish Brian all the best in the future.

Reporting lines

Kasper Moos will continue to report to me.

Kasper will maintain his office in Dover, and everyone currently reporting to Kasper will continue to do so. In addition, the following will as of today report to Kasper:

Kim Heiberg, Route Director, Copenhagen-Oslo
Pete Akerman, Global Marketing Director
Casper Puggaard, Global Sales & Service Director
Lucas Stefan Kragh, Yield & Revenue Management Director
Declan Walsh, Business Development & Strategy director and DIO
Bente Berg, Finance & HR Manager, Administration & Business Support Norway (50%)
There will be no other change of reporting lines.

BU Baltic will continue managing and operating all Baltic Sea routes using BU Short Routes and Passenger as its global sales agency.

I am confident that Kasper (43) is the right person to manage the new BU. His career started at A.P Moller-Maersk as a ships officer and continued in DFDS where he has long proven his management skills, first as a Crewing Manager, then VP and Head of Technical Organisation and most recently as Head of BU Channel. This has prepared him in the best possible way for his new challenging task as Head of BU Short Routes & Passenger.

I very much look forward to working with Kasper on growing our passenger business, and I know that every one of you will do everything in your power to support him.

Peder Gellert, EVP and Head of Ferry Division

 

As BU Group Passenger is now part of BU Short Routes and Passenger, Brian Thorsted Hansen will leave DFDS.

Ferry Division’s new BU Short Routes and Passenger will be headed by Kasper Moos.

First Super User group graduates from LS Retail Super User workshops

Workshops for Super Users of LS Retail are running across the DFDS network and the first group has just graduated

 

When it comes to on-board sales, it’s very important not just to have a good software platform to support sales, but also to have staff that can assist their colleagues in using it to its full potential.

Workshops that enable our staff to become even better at supporting sales are currently underway for Super Users of the LS Retail sales platform, which is used at all points of sale on board our passenger vessels across the DFDS network. Now the first group of LS Retail Super Users have graduated from their Super User training, and it is a great start for the LS Retail team that runs it.

This group consisted of crew members from the ships on the English Channel and some of their colleagues in the back office who attended a two-day workshop in Dover in late March and completed their training with another two-day session at the beginning of May. The first workshop was centred on the Super User role and the expectations of those taking it on, while the second session had a more technical approach and system focus.

“It was great to see true motivation and engagement for the role, and we are very pleased with the feedback from all of the participants at both events,” said Marianne Hagen, Business Analyst in Finance & IT, who is responsible for implementing the LS Retail Super User organisation.

Whenever you have a question related to LS Retail on the English Channel, please send an email to GroupLSRetailSuperUserEC@dfds.com.

The graduated Super Users are:
Christophe Langlois and Ludovic Guigot from Calais Seaways
Jorge Marques and Nayma Elalem from Delft Seaways
Jelena Savenkova and Rui Romão from Dunkerque Seaways
Scott Boyton and Jason Hulme from Dover Seaways
Pierre-Marie Barron and Jérôme Prin from Côte des Flandres
Laure-Anne Regnault and Emmanuel Coubel from Côtes des Dunes
Heidi Roberts, Ashley Hyde and Armelle Segain from the back-office functions in Whitfield, Dover and Dieppe

By mid-June, the Super User workshops for the Baltic ships will be in place, and after the summer holidays we will roll these out to the cruise routes.

More information on who the next Super Users will be and how to contact them will follow.

Strategy Days on the Newcastle – Amsterdam route

Pictured in IJmuiden terminal are: Andrew Meek; Jesper Christensen; Jean-Claude Charlo; Teun-Wim Leene; Chris Parker; Gemma Griffin; Steve Newberry; Kasper Moos; Wayne Bullen and Rianne Pels.

 

On Tuesday and Wednesday last week Kasper Moos and the BU Channel Management Team held their Team Strategy Days on the Newcastle – Amsterdam route.

Tuesday kicked off with a tour of the IJmuiden site including the terminal. It was wonderful to see so many colleagues not only those who are operationally part of the extended BU Channel Team but from BU Group Passenger Contact Centre and Marketing Teams.

After the site tour, we embarked on the beautiful King Seaways and availed of the fantastic meeting facilities in the private section of the North Sea Bistro Restaurant. Following our meeting we had an extensive tour of the vessel in all the commercial areas: front and back of house as well as the Bridge and the Engine room. It was just amazing to see how the passion and the professionalism drives the performance of this ship – it is a credit to all the officers and crew!


In the engine room onboard King Seaways.

A dinner hosted by the Senior Officers of King Seaways Captain Andreas Kristensen; Chief Engineer Henrik Fisker- Bjerg; First Engineer Claus Rasmussen and Commercial Head Jorn Vase gave Head Chef Dorte Slyngborg and team the opportunity to showcase their culinary talents as they gave us a taste of what’s to come from a new menu for North Sea Bistro.

Once we arrived in Newcastle we had a tour of the site and again had the opportunity to meet and greet lots of our colleagues including BU Group Passenger Contact Centre, Marketing and Sales teams.

It was a great couple of days said Kasper, not least by spending this quality time discussing BUC Strategy with the Senior team but also having the opportunity to network with so many of our colleague ship and shore.

A huge thanks to everyone that welcomed us and keep up the fantastic work that you are doing to create great experiences for our customers.

By Gemma Griffin, VP, HR & Crewing.

BU Channel adds Newhaven – Dieppe route to Freight Ferry Alerts App

Digital and BU Channel are adding to the Freight Ferry Alerts App, and we will soon be offering this tool for both Dover and Newhaven – Dieppe routes. Pictured is Seven Sisters departing Newhaven.

 

DFDS is well known for going the extra mile, nautical and otherwise, for its customers. In general operations that takes many forms. One service we are very happy to offer is live service updates for our customers and their drivers with the Freight Ferry Alerts App, which will soon be supported for both the Dover and Newhaven – Dieppe routes.

From 13 May the app will become available for the Newhaven – Dieppe route as part of the ongoing development. Hasan Ünal, Product Owner in Digital, says: “Digital and all business units are working closer on app projects, with good results. For instance, a previous project added QR code-compatible check-in gates for freight drivers in terminals. Our long-term strategy is to create a DFDS app universe where we ensure a smooth, coherent and satisfying journey when engaging with DFDS services. We have established a product team in Digital with exciting projects on the way.”

Cheryl Hawes, Freight Customer Service Manager, Freight Sales, UK & EC, says: “This is great news that following the idea from our Dover route we will now be launching this for our customers on the Newhaven – Dieppe route. BU Channel have been working with Digital and external developers to expand on the success of this app that gives much needed information about real-time traffic situations, along with safety messages and marketing of USPs to our customers and their drivers, without hassle, confusion or delays in information. A special thanks go to Stephanie Hure and Stephanie Goux for supporting the swift implementation. This has been an excellent example of working together and where sharing best practice benefits our freight customers.”

Sean Potter, Ferry Divisional Head, Digital & Systems, adds: “We are always looking for ways to ease and improve the constant and necessary cooperation with our customers. One significant area we are focusing on is how, with a straightforward app, we can communicate very efficiently to ensure that our customers’ daily operations go smoothly on our vessels. I look forward to this type of customer communication being established in the near future across the rest of the Ferry Division network as part of our ongoing strategy with the Digital team towards development opportunities.”

Another welcome addition is Turkish language support on the app. You can read about the digitisation benefits of this app from an earlier article.

Joint efforts prepare Channel for Brexit

“The question now is simple – what length of extension can be mutually acceptable to both the EU and the UK? If the EU pushes a hard line on a long extension rather than, it fears, a series of requests for short extensions, is that something which Theresa May can push through Cabinet, and Parliament? No Deal seems unlikely but still eminently possible in the current febrile atmosphere.”

Chris Parker, Director of Capacity & Commercial Performance, Eastern Channel, on Friday 5 April.  

If you are not among the lucky recipients of Chris Parker’s brilliant weekly analyses of the politics of Brexit, you can get a taste of it above in this conclusion from his most recent contribution.

That Chris Parker is following the situation more closely than most is understandable. He is capacity and performance director for our Channel routes – and they will be more affected by Brexit than any other ferry route.

“If we were unprepared for Brexit, DFDS, travellers and hauliers, businesses and tourism on both sides of the Channel would suffer under it. In this situation I am extremely grateful for all the work, energy and commitment we see among our colleagues in the Channel and central Brexit teams helping us prepare for it. I am equally grateful for the commitment we see among customs authorities, ports and trade associations to work with us to find solutions that will mitigate the consequences. All this gives me confidence in our ability to solve many of the challenges a hard Brexit would present us if the attempts to postpone it should fail,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Channel.

Preparations include the below.

Finding solutions with customs
We have had a series of meetings with French customs that has fostered a very good solution. The French customs authorities will get the customs clearance documents for all trucks boarding in Dover so they can use the crossing time to inspect documents. Via an information board in the drivers’ lounge, trucks’ number plates will be listed in red for the trucks which customs want to inspect at arrival. All other trucks, listed in green, will be able to continue their journey after arrival without further inspection.

“This is a brilliant solution which will greatly reduce the risk of long waiting times if the trucks have the documentation in place when they arrive at the terminal. Jean Aubert, his team and not least Stephanie Thomas deserve huge credit for their cooperation with customs about this, as do Sean Potter, Jenny Daker and the DIO team for having prepared our systems, and aligned processes, including Phoenix, My Freight, API connection to Authorities, EDI, and 3rd party software along with IT / Digital development to handle this,” says Kasper.

BU Channel and French customs have agreed to test the system again with real trucks on Monday.

Training of staff in port operations where Jesper Christensen’s and Sebastien Douvry’s staff will be the first to meet customers on arrival and to check whether documents have been completed and guide the customers. Port operation colleagues have also done a great job preparing Dunkerque for handling more trucks waiting and for customs controls.

HR preparations
“The impact of Brexit will be felt not just by our customers but by our staff, and our HR departments have been working hard to support all of our colleagues and to ensure continuity of our services”.

Informing passengers and cargo customers.
“Philipp Päper has done a great job coordinating our passenger Brexit preparations, and BU Group Passenger, with support from Digital, have been preparing our digital sales platform to communicate with our passengers about new requirements. Wayne Bullen and his team have been extremely busy informing and coordinating with all our freight customers.

IT systems
A huge amount of work is ongoing to adapt our IT systems to the new requirements, including for communicating with customs systems in all countries, port systems and customers’ systems.

Are we ready?
“We are as prepared as we can be. However, despite all preparations and communications to our customers, there is still a risk that some of our customers won’t be ready with the required export and import declarations from day one. Therefore, we expect that there will be disruption to the operations in the early days so we have allocated additional staff and management to secure the contact to all relevant stakeholders to be able to react promptly to potential disruptions.”


Kasper Moos, Vice President & Head of BU Channel

New bicycle area at Dunkerque Terminal

The brand new bicycle storage area at the terminal in Dunkerque

On our Dover – France routes we carry around 15,000 bicycles and their passengers every year, and this is an extremely popular mode of travel for our customers travelling from all markets.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “We value our customer feedback, and a recurring comment was that they would appreciate a bicycle storage area at our port in Dunkerque. We have therefore established a dedicated area where pushbikes can be stored while our customers are waiting to board the ship in Dunkerque. This will allow our guests to enjoy the terminal facilities and feel confident about leaving their bikes in a safe and dry area. We have already tested the facility on our first bicycling passengers, and they were absolutely delighted.”

Delphine Blanquart, Terminal Operations Manager, Dunkerque & Calais, says: “This is a great new addition to our terminal facilities in Dunkerque, and we were so pleased to get the new bicycle park installed quickly, allowing customers to feel that we appreciate their comments and care about their bicycles. Our operations team has already started to promote the new facility at the check-in point to create awareness amongst our customers.”

BU Channel celebrates reading and storytelling as part of World Book Day

Over the last weeks our British colleagues have promoted World Book Day, a charity that strive to encourage families to take time to share stories and promote the importance of reading for pleasure. It’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading.

As part of DFDS’ World Book Day campaign, Children and families from the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany participated in unique workshops facilitated by six enthusiastic British children book authors on board Côte Des Dunes and King Seaways.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager for DFDS said: “We were delighted to be able to offer these engaging and interactive workshops during the busy February half-term. As a ferry operator, we recognise that families are given quality time they may not otherwise have when travelling by other modes of transport.”

Read a lot more about the two events on board Côte Des Dunes and King Seaways in the full press releases:
Eastern Channel event on board Côte Des Dunes

North Sea event on board King Seaways


Author Steve Cole ran a creative writing workshop, during which he taught children quick-and-easy ways to invent and grow story ideas

 


Award-winning novelist Gwyneth Rees shared some childhood experiences of writing stories and told the children about her first book, which she wrote at just 10 years old

 


Illustrator Lynne Chapman taught the children how to make illustrations simple, yet emotive and effective

 


Musician, poet, author and enthusiastic Miles Salter had the children on their feet and encouraged children to tell stories through acting and role play

Migrants boarded Calais Seaways in Calais on Saturday

On Saturday evening, around 100 migrants broke into the dock area of the port of Calais and about 60 of them succeeded in getting on board Calais Seaways by means of a maintenance ladder before the ship’s crew had been able to discharge the passengers and their vehicles.

When the ramp came down, the police could support the crew with discharging the ship and detain the many of the migrants. However, 17 of them had climbed high above the deck to a catwalk attached to the ship’s funnel, and it took until Sunday for the police and fire services to persuade them to climb down.

According to the port, it was orchestrated by a few migrants from Afghanistan and Iran.

Two of the migrants fell into the water during the attempt to board the ship and had to be rescued by the local firemen.

“There was no violence involved, but in the stressful situation a colleague stumbled and injured her arm. I am very sorry for this. I am also sorry for the delays that our passengers experienced in relation to this as it also delayed Cote des Dunes’ arrival and Calais Seaways’ departure until Sunday,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Channel.

“I decided to participate in an interview with the BBC the national broadcaster in the UK, to make it clear that is a very unusual situation. Even though migrants try to get to the UK hidden in trailers, we hardly ever see illegal migrants on board. This is a peaceful, reliable and safe route for travels between The UK and France,” says Kasper Moos.

Gemma Griffin, VP of HR & Crewing, says: “During the course of this incident it has to be said that the officers and crew of Calais Seaways did an incredible job in unusual circumstances and of course took excellent care of the passengers who were on board at the time and we sincerely thank them for their efforts. Of course, this is a highly unusual and indeed very stressful event in the course of our normal duties onboard, so psychological support will be arranged to take good care of our colleagues in the days following this event.”


The police was ready to support the crew with discharging the ship and detaining the many of the migrants

Channel customers delayed by thorough customs checks

Calais Seaways was moved from Calais – Dover to Dunkerque – Dover to help out for a period of time

Today, French Channel ports are experiencing major traffic flow problems as French Customs seems to have decided to check travellers coming into France from the UK more thoroughly than usual. At times this is causing longer waiting times and queues, even on the roads leading to the ports.

“We are very sorry for this situation and the effect it has on our customers. In Dunkerque, our large capacity for storing trucks helps us mitigate the consequences, and many customers that would normally use Calais have been seeking Dunkerque for this reason, says Sébastien Douvry, Operations Director. Calais Seaways was moved from Calais – Dover to Dunkerque – Dover to help out for a period of time.

“We understand it is related to a disagreement between Customs and the customs workers’ union. However, we strongly urge them help us maintain flow in the Channel services as it is causing a big problem for our customers. We have a very positive cooperation with the French Customs in the work preparing for Brexit. They are cooperative and open in their efforts to find workable solutions that will mitigate the consequences of Brexit on traffic between the UK and France. And I am confident that we will be able to find solutions that will help us provide a good service to our customers and avoid unnecessary delays if we continue our good cooperation,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Channel.

BU Channel introduces new bicycle catering service at Dunkerque Terminal

Sophie Franque driving the new bicycle at Dunkerque Terminal

The BU Channel Customer Experience team reviews comments from our customers about the services we offer and what we can do to improve them on a monthly basis. The team takes the feedback, shares it with Heads of Department, and decides on the actions they can take to meet the suggestions.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager at BU Channel says: “We hear from our customers that they find the catering facilities at the Dunkerque passenger terminal rather limited, as we only offer hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks via vending machines.”

“Our customers suggested that we could offer fresher items at the terminal. Not much time was spent between idea and action, and so it did not take long until Sophie Franque, Operations Agent, took our new bicycle service on a test drive down the Dunkerque loading lanes.”

The new service will commence at the Easter holidays between the hours of 10.00-18.00 and offer our customers hot and cold drinks, croissants, pastries and ice cream in the summer.

“Thank you to Sebastien Douvry, Operations Director France, and his team for coming up with this initiative. We are very much looking forward to spending time with our customers in the loading lanes over the Easter period to hear what they think of the new service” adds Steve.

BU Channel celebrates national ‘Love Your Pet Day’

In Dover, Dunkerque and Calais, the teams celebrated ‘Love Your Pet Day’ with our customers in the ports, rewarding 20 furry-guest lovers with a fabulous pet gift box, filled with pet essentials.

February 20 is national ‘Love Your Pet Day’ in the UK and it’s a great day to show your love for our little furry friends. Whether you’re a cat or dog lover, or you’ve got a family of chimpanzees sharing your home with you, this is the day to spoil them even more than you normally do, and show them how much they mean to your family.

In Dover, Dunkerque and Calais, the teams celebrated this special day with our customers in the ports, rewarding 20 furry-guest lovers with a fabulous pet gift box, filled with pet essentials.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager at BU Channel, says: “It was so exciting sharing this national day, where we surprised and delighted our customers with their super pet gift boxes.”

“On our Dover – France routes we carry around 86,000 dogs a year. This generates a very respectable revenue for our routes as we have many guests who love to take their furry family member on their annual holiday or to visit family in other countries. In BU Channel, we have implemented a number of pet initiatives over the last year to enhance the customer experience for passengers travelling with their furry family members, ranging from our dedicated DFDS Pet Pals who are first-aid trained to support in the times of need, to a new pet exercise area in Dover.”

Sharing the Valentine’s love in BU Channel

The #DFDSSURPRISES winner’s voucher brought smiles from coast to coast in BU Channel

 

The romantic day of love we call Valentine’s Day is celebrated annually on 14 February in honour of the two early saints named Valentinus. The BU Channel team put their heads together on what they could do to celebrate the day.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, said “There was so much love in the air onboard and ashore and we could not let the day of love pass without sharing this with our wonderful customers. In Dover, Dunkirk and Calais our tickets offices were dressed in hearts and banners, and our customers enjoyed chocolates and Valentine’s sweets.”

20 lucky passengers were also selected at each of the three ports and given a #DFDSSURPRISES winner’s voucher – A real Valentine’s treat with complimentary lounge access and a meal for two, along with a rose and a box of chocolates.

The charming solo passenger Derek, aged 71 was overwhelmed at the surprise and caused quite a stir with fun and laughter together with Dover’s check-in team and their Customer Support Supervisor, Lenka Frycova

On Friday the sharing of love continued in Newcastle where the team also decorated the terminal in a Valentine’s theme, gave out chocolates to our passengers and upgraded four couples to a complimentary two course meal and a bottle of wine in the North Sea Bistro for their cruise between Newcastle and Amsterdam on board King Seaways.

Restaurant tables for the lucky passengers were set with rose confetti and a ‘love’ cracker, arranged by Jade Whitfield, Port Office Manager and Tamara Rebair, Port Supervisor from Newcastle

The channel overflowed with smiles from our excited winners, as did our social media with lots of sweet comments from our followers.

“Did cupid work his magic onboard Calais Seaways whilst sailing into the Channel sun? Or did he wait for King Seaways to cruise into the night dusk of the North Sea? Who can really say? This event was a great opportunity to give something back to our guests who appreciated the extra attention on both our Dover-France and Newcastle-Amsterdam routes,” added Steve.

 

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