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Calais Seaways lay up

Calais Seaways

Due to the continued Covid-19 situation, demand for our Dover – Calais service has reduced. We will therefore adjust our schedule and will temporarily lay up the Calais Seaways. The route will continue sailing with a reduced frequency in order to service our freight customers and drivers as well as travelers with an essential transport need.

Kasper Moos, VP & Head of DFDS’ Short Routes and Passenger business, says: “Sailings on our Dover – Calais service will continue to a reduced schedule as we have an obligation to keep servicing our freight customers in order to maintain the supply chains and those undertaking essential travel. This is in line with the Government’s recommendations to ensure that there is food and other goods on the shelves in the supermarkets and supply of goods to keep wheels turning in industry and communities.

“Unfortunately, the change to our schedule will have an impact for a number of colleagues and we are currently in dialogue with staff, crews, works council and union representatives in respect of that.”

“Needless to say, myself and the whole management team are extremely proud of the way everyone has continued to take care of our customers and each other throughout these extremely difficult weeks. Now conditions beyond our control have meant a reduction in our frequency on the Dover – Calais service, but I can’t wait to welcome everyone back again as soon as the Covid-19 crisis is under control and travel restrictions have been lifted,” says Kasper.

Beware of dragons

Even though our Channel ferries sail in the busiest waters of all DFDS routes, and have to keep a close look on a great number of passing ships, a crossing is both safe and peaceful. At least so we thought. But now it appears there are dangers that even our most experienced captains never thought of.

According to legend, there are huge galleries beneath the earth’s crust where fantastic creatures evolve – and so, in fact, out came the pictured greenish beast of the sea. It is even documented in the above picture showing the dragon with Calais Seaways safely hiding in the background.

No need for alarm though: the dragon is clearly snoring and doesn’t look like it will wake up anytime soon. And as a crowd of several hundred people and children are daring to approach it for selfies, it may also be safe for our ships to pass it.

After all: it is Halloween. Praise to the French artist François Delarozière for making Halloween such a great party in Calais.

Calais Seaways saves Columbo

No day in PR is predictable and that especially goes for Fridays where anything can happen. For Naomi Harper, PR Manager, Friday the 11th was absolutely no exception. Listen to Naomi’s take on a memorable day.

I settled down for a quiet day of planning when the phone rang, as it so often does. Sometimes it is just a customer who has dialled the wrong number and is looking to get through to make a booking. On this occasion though, the gentleman called Adam on the end of the line sounded panicked and said it was an emergency. So there was no doubt in my mind that I had to help.

Adam explained that he and his wife, Yaneth, and their Boxer dog, Columbo, were on their way home from Calais. There had been an issue with Columbo’s pet passport and Eurotunnel wouldn’t accept it. Adam had to immediately return to the UK due to work commitments and to return a vehicle, so he had to leave his wife and dog in Calais.

His question to us was, after having Columbo’s pet passport re-stamped and waiting the required 24 hours, could they sail back with us the next day as foot passengers. They sadly could not as our Eastern Channel route doesn’t take foot passengers. I was, however, determined to find another way.

After checking with the team, we arranged a DFDS van to collect Yaneth and Columbo in Calais the next day and pop them onto Calais Seaways for a smooth crossing back to Dover. Yaneth enjoyed a glass of prosecco in the Premium Lounge and treated Columbo to a toy from the on-board shop.

Adam then met them at the Port of Dover for a safe onward journey. Additionally, Adam mentioned afterwards that he’s a business studies lecturer at a university and would be using DFDS as a case study to show his students how a business should treat its ‘potential’ customers and win them as actual customers.

It was brilliant team work, pulling this together at the last minute to bring these passengers back to the UK, so thank you to Cyril Bourgois in Calais, Therese Boullot on Calais Seaways, Guy Ellis in Dover, Jesper Christensen and Gemma Griffin.

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.

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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Customer Care & Group Legal go hand in hand

Customer Care colleagues visiting Dunkirk after an in-depth tour of the terminal from Delphine Blanquart, Terminal Operation Manager. From left: Nancy Cuggy, Sue Elliott, Russell Challenor, Danissa van Zandijk, Joni Wilkins, Louisa El Bachiri, Vicky Wiltshire, Lenka Frycova, Steve Garner, Delphine Blanquart & Jurga Repsyte

Our colleagues reviewing and discussing recurrent issues from the DFDS guest and offering solutions to reduce customer contact.

Our guests expect a top class service when travelling with us and on the rare occasion that we fall short we expect our customers to bring this to our attention on board or at our terminals. Sadly this doesn’t always happen and customers contact our care team in their local market instead. To ensure our Customer Care Advisors are able to respond with confidence, a three-day workshop was recently delivered by our team in Dover for colleagues from Newcastle, Dieppe, Hamburg and Ijmuiden.

The group looked at recurrent customer service issues and discussed plans for future improvements designed to reduce this sort of contact into our booking offices, along with sharing best practice. Johanna Wickenberg Linneballe and Jurga Repsyte from Group Legal provided an update about the new passenger claims handing process, and the team enjoyed an educational trip to experience all three channel ports and both the D-Class and C-Class vessels.

Steve Garner Customer Experience Manager said: “Only around 0.4% of guests who travel with us get in touch with us about their experience. We’ve also seen a 30% decrease in customer complaints compared to 2016, which is something we can all be proud of as it couldn’t be done without the dedication, commitment and hard work of all staff on-board and ashore. I’d also like to thank Jesper Christensen, Operations Director, Andy Watkins, OBS Business Development Manager, and Therese Boullot, Head of On-board Services from CALAIS SEAWAYS, for being our guest speakers at the workshop and our Customer Care & Legal representatives for their participation in making the workshop a success. We’ve now created a super new community for our colleagues in Customer Care so we can provide help and support to one another.”