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New UK quarantine rules pose huge challenge

Photo by John Bryant

As a consequence of the increasing infection rates in the Netherlands and France, the UK has decided on new travel guidance. This means that passengers arriving from those and some other countries into the UK are requested to go into quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Especially on the Channel, this has immediately caused a surge in passenger numbers as many want to get back before 04:00 on Saturday when the new quarantine rules come into force.

DFDS reacted immediately and increased number of departures and passenger capacity on ferries on the eastern Channel for key departures to help as many as possible of those who want to return to the UK before the new rules apply.

“We have also created a range of emails, social media messages, announcements on the internet and other means of communication to inform our passengers about the quarantine rules so they are not caught in a bad situation,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Short Routes & Passenger.

He adds: “We have decided that our passengers on the eastern Channel and the IJmuiden – Newcastle routes can change their bookings free of charge up to 24 hours before departure, and now also offer our passengers the option to postpone their travel until September 2021 so their money isn’t lost if they can’t travel.”

“These are times when things change from day to day and from hour to hour. The new quarantine rules are not good news for us, but I am extremely encouraged by the way everyone has reacted to this. To everyone in Marketing, Sales, Operations and On-Board Services, HR – and everyone in Dover, France, Newcastle and IJmuiden: I Just can’t thank you enough for your hard work and huge achievement. It makes me really proud and it supports our customers and benefits DFDS when it is really needed,” says Kasper.

“And I hope that we will soon see the infection rate go down again so quarantine becomes unnecessary and travelling gets as easy as it should be.”

Côte d’Opale destined for Dover-Calais now launched in China

Côte d’Opale feeling water under the hull for the first time as she was launched today in China.

Today, we can share another newbuilding milestone, that might especially excite our colleagues from the Channel. Côte d’Opale, the 3,100 lane metres newbuilding, destined for our Dover-Calais service, was successfully launched at the shipyard in Weihai – more than one month earlier than planned.

Stena RoRo will be the owner and DFDS will take her on a 10-year bareboat charter immediately after delivery that is scheduled on 30 June 2021 as per original plan.

Kasper Moos, VP and Head of BU Short Routes & Passenger, says: “With her 214 metres length and the capacity for 1000 passengers, Côte d’Opale will be the longest ferry on the Channel.“

“Contrary to the other ferries in the series of eight ordered by Stena, Côte d’Opale has no passenger cabins due to the short crossing time on The Channel. The extra capacity will optimise the customer experience with additional amenities ensuring passengers will have plenty of space to relax, try modern food concepts and enjoy an extensive shopping experience. I am very much looking forward to presenting Côte d’Opale to our customers and see how she will help strengthen and grow our business on the Channel”

Jesper Aagesen, Director of Newbuilding and Major Conversions, says: “Senior Site Superintendent Jeppe Halkjær Pedersen, who also oversees the construction of the mega freight ferries from Jinling Shipyard, attended the ceremony to represent DFDS and get a good look at ‘our’ coming ferry.”

Now the construction of the ferry will continue with all the outfitting works of the accommodation and facilities.


Now that Côte d’Opale looks like a real DFDS ferry on the outside, it is time for the installation of furnishings, interior spaces and other equipment and systems.

Dover – France routes celebrate passenger birthdays

New initiative: Dover – France passengers who travel on their birthdays are offered a birthday card and a slice of rainbow cake from the on-board Lighthouse Café, here served by Louis Hermel, Steward on Calais Seaways

 

Local Customer Experience and On-board Services Marketing teams have launched an initiative to recognise passenger birthdays and offer a treat for their special day.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Short Routes & Passenger, says: “This idea came from a recent seminar with senior team members from ship and shore. Gary Andrews from Business Development & Strategy was also working on a similar idea and with great co-operation the initiative is now up and running on the Dover – France routes and will soon be introduced on the Amsterdam – Newcastle routes with a different offer.”


At check-in the Operations Team identifies customer birthdays when swiping passports and they inform the team on board. Guest Information presents the passenger with a ‘Sail-ebrate’ birthday card and a voucher to redeem for a complimentary slice of cake from the Lighthouse Café

 

“This is about giving something back to our passengers and bringing some DFDS joy to their special day. Thank you to Hawa Turner, Marketing Manager, and Victoria Twyman, Marketing Administrator of On-board Services, for producing the fabulous card and voucher,” adds Steve Garner.

Steve Newbery, On-board Commercial Director, says: “It’s fantastic that the great ideas from the seminar can be implemented so quickly. It’s important we engage with our passengers to make them feel special with a genuine surprise, and promote the passion we all have to ensure our passengers have a memorable journey with us. Brand Loyalty is key to keeping passenger numbers growing and this type of initiative keeps our brand alive for the passenger. Thanks to all involved and I look forward to seeing the next roll-out.”


Therese Boullot (right), Head of On-board Services for Calais Seaways, sharing birthday wishes and joy to a passenger celebrating her birthday on board

Dover – France route teams step up to support customers over busy holiday period

When it’s the summer holiday season in the UK we have the great pleasure of meeting lots of lovely people travelling on our Dover – France routes for their annual holiday. Teams on board and ashore stepped up to deal with the challenges caused by busy roads and terminals. Delft Seaways and Côte Des Flandres pictured in the Port of Dover

 

During the holiday period, high volumes of traffic arrive at the port of Dover, potentially causing major delays to holidaymakers. Even with months of planning, ensuring additional resources are in place and keeping our customers informed with the latest live port and sailing information, obstacles are unavoidable. In the spirit of the DFDS Way, when we see a problem, we fix it, and it all tends to work out in the end.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Short Routes & Passenger says: “Between Thursday 25 and Saturday 27 July we had 59,000 passengers and 15,000 tourist vehicles travel with DFDS from Dover, with our competitors also experiencing high volumes on their services and a severely impacted approach to Dover. Temperatures rose to a locally rare 30 degrees, so to ensure our customers were looked after, bottles of water were given to customers waiting at the port and additional measures were put in place for guests with pets to ensure their utmost welfare. The teams on the Dover – France routes did exceptional work to ensure we delivered a great customer experience.”

The busy days were not without incident for the channel ferries. A bow door on Delft Seaways wouldn’t open, which meant the captain had to turn the ship around to allow stern access. While it did cause a delay, the customers appreciated that the crew acted immediately and kept them informed throughout. Delft also faced an issue with the air conditioning flow on board and again the crew managed the situation extremely well and took care of the well-being of passengers with complimentary water and ice cream. A technical error experienced by one of our competitors in Dover caused delays to our passengers as well, but our port staff went to all areas of the port to reach and support customers. Some staff even abandoned their cars in Dover traffic jams to go and assist.

Jesper Christensen, Operations Director of BU Short Routes & Passenger said: “It’s always a very difficult time when these sorts of challenges arise and are beyond our control. Our dedicated and hard-working teams in our ports and on board our vessels continuously deliver exceptional service to our customers. I would like to give my special thanks to all involved who ensured the least impact on our customers, going above and beyond to keep the traffic moving in the hot weather conditions and during an exceptionally busy and difficult weekend. The feedback from our social media channels reinforce the great job our teams carry out every day for our customers.”

 

DFDS launches ‘Field to Ferry’ PR campaign

DFDS’ PR team in BU Short Routes & Passenger saw an opportunity to showcase our produce suppliers: from Field to Ferry.

 

Following an internal review of our produce suppliers on our Eastern Channel, Naomi Thornton and Karen Ashwell from our PR team in BU Short Routes & Passenger saw an opportunity to create a fantastic campaign to showcase some of our UK suppliers, with the aim of engaging and informing passengers about where the food served on board has come from.

With the explosion in the UK casual dining scene over recent years, and consumers with a keenness to understand as much as possible about where their food comes from, the Food & Beverage and Onboard teams have worked hard to create an onboard ferry dining experience that shatters any preconceptions of ferry food from bygone years.

Dave Lewis, Category Manager Food & Beverage at DFDS, says: “I am incredibly passionate about food and, from early on in my career as a chef, I understood the importance of good quality ingredients in helping to create the best quality dishes. My job now at DFDS is to source great ingredients to provide our passengers with the best dishes on board our ships, from Field to Ferry.”

“We have a clear focus on our customers at DFDS, and we take great pride in continuously seeking improvements to ensure those special, memorable experiences of travelling with us. Whether it’s a light bite, a healthy salad or one of our delicious, freshly-made meals, there is something onboard for everyone. I hope that passengers enjoy eating them as much as I enjoyed finding such great produce and ingredients.”

The campaign is focusing initially on five of our UK producers and suppliers. They all have a passion and commitment to producing high-quality food for the food service industry, and have gained multiple awards between them. Each supplier has a strong focus on provenance, traceability and sustainability; all factors that are given key consideration in DFDS’ uncompromising search for quality.

Brexit stockpiling created temporary volumes peak on DFDS’ ferry routes

In a freight market as huge as in the one to and from the UK, a volume jump of ten per cent from month to month is very unusual.  However, due to Brexit, this is what happened on DFDS North Sea and English Channel routes on average during March.

“This is in our view due to the fear of a disruption of transport routes up to the then expected Brexit dates of 31 March and 12 April and possible cumbersome customs procedures and additional tax on the goods,” says Kell Robdrup, Senior Vice President, North Sea routes.

“Both we and our customers have prepared intensively for Brexit, and among those are customers that have production and assembly lines that need a continuous influx of parts to keep running. The ferry routes also service customers that have obligations to secure goods flow for their customers. Therefore, many companies have been building extra stocks to avoid a very costly break down of deliveries, not least on the Dover-France routes where DFDS alone services more than a million trucks every year,” he says.

As part of the UK’s preparations, the  UK department for Transport has also signed an agreement with, among other, DFDS, to perform extra sailings to protect the people and businesses in the UK from lack of critical goods in case of a disruption of traffic due to a no-deal Brexit. As this didn’t happen and Brexit was postponed, this ‘insurance’ contract was cancelled on 1 May by the UK Department for Transport.

“DFDS is continuing its work to prepare for Brexit until a no-deal Brexit isn’t a risk anymore.”

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

Gathering knowledge and Customer Service Centre heads

Casper Puggaard, the new Global Sales & Service Director in BU Group Passenger has had a busy start to the year with his new job visiting various locations in the organisation. Last week in Dover, he had the pleasure of gathering all six Heads of our Contact Centres for a hand-over from Gemma Griffin. Gemma has been filling in as Interim Director in addition to doing her regular job as VP of HR and Crewing in the Channel.

“It was a really valuable meeting that included a fun and educational meet-and-greet session and a thorough review of the Passenger strategy. The contact Centre Heads have done a great job developing a functional strategy for their area, which fits perfectly with the overall strategy and direction for BUGP and DFDS. It is also extremely important for me to meet and build relations with colleagues from both within and outside of my team” says Casper.

The meeting also made room for an update on the great BUGP results from 2018, the BUGP Digital and IT strategy for 2019 and Gemma presented elements from the Bearing survey results for the Contact Centres.

“With the new strategy in place, I expect that we will be able to transform DFDS’ Contact Centre operation into a world-class, modern and digitised operation. I am really looking forward to continuing the journey, which we have just kicked off in the best possible way together,” says Casper.

Learning about the Channel

Prior to the meeting, Casper spent half a day with Operations Director Jesper Christensen and Gemma Griffin to learn about the market and the business on the Channel. Casper went with one of our Channel ferries to Calais and returned to Dover via Eurotunnel in order to experience one of our competitors on the Channel.

Delft Seaways in rescue operation

Photo by John Bryant

Tuesday 27 November Delft Seaways played an important role in a rescue operation on the Channel.

“We spotted a small craft off the coast of Dunkerque with people on board who were flashing mobile phones and desperately waving at us. We immediately informed the rescue service and prepared our rescue teams to stand by as requested by the French authorities,” says Bartlomiej Borowski, Master of Delft Seaways.

“I am extremely proud of the crew, who managed to protect and save the lives of eight migrants who were in great danger because of a large container vessel approaching. Without the important action of the crew, the migrants might not have survived,” says Thomas Mørk, VP of Technical Organisation.

All eight migrants were rescued by a French lifeboat and a police boat, and Delft was able to return to operation again with a small delay of around 50 minutes on her arrival at Dunkerque.

BU Channel to include all Channel routes. Stronger French organisation

As we have just announced, U.N. Ro-Ro of Turkey is now part of DFDS and as U.N. Ro-Ro also operates a route to and from Toulon on the French Mediterranean coast, it provides an obvious opportunity to include the Marseille – Tunis route in the new strong BU Mediterranean where it naturally belongs, along with U.N. Ro-Ro’s freight routes.

This is also a great opportunity to create even more clarity in our vital Channel business and at the same time merge our Western and Eastern Channel business organisations into one to reap the benefits of a stronger unified Channel organisation.

This means that the responsibility for terminal operations in Calais and Dunkirk will transfer into the French organisation headed by Jean-Claude Charlo – Managing Director and now Head of the enlarged French BU Channel organisation. Jean-Claude will also continue heading the Dieppe – Newhaven route and freight sales in France. He will report to BU Channel owner Kasper Moos and become member of the BU Channel management team.

Kasper Moos

We expect that this new stronger, unified French Channel organisation under the management of Jean-Claude will remove current inconsistencies in responsibilities and provide us with more power for focusing sales and increasing our visibility and brand awareness in France. This will benefit sales for both the Dover Strait routes and the Dieppe – Newhaven route, and along with our UK organisation make BU Channel even more exciting, efficient and fun to work in,” says Kasper Moos, VP & Head of BU Channel.

Sebastién Douvry, Operations Director, will continue in his role as head of operations in Calais and Dunkerque now reporting to Jean-Claude Charlo.

Jean-Claude Charlo

All other French colleagues will continue in their current jobs and in their current locations in Paris, Dieppe, Calais and Dunkerque, and there will be no changes to the organisation in Dover.

I would like to congratulate Jean-Claude on his new position. He has earned it for his loyalty, his skills as a manager and for his continuous efforts to enhance sales and operations in France. And I would also like to thank you all in BU Channel and on the Dieppe – Newhaven route for your hard work and commitment to making it a success. This has paved the way for this strengthening of the organisation, which will bring us more focus for developing and growing the business and thus also more job and career opportunities.

I very much look forward to seeing what you can all achieve with this new and stronger BU Channel organisation, for our customers, our business, for you and for DFDS.

Below, please find the new BU Channel organisation, which will come in force today.

Best regards

Peder Gellert, Executive Vice President & Head of the Shipping Division

 

 

New ship for the Channel in 2021

The Channel is a big and important market, where five million passengers, one million cars and 1.2 million trucks travel between Dover – Calais and Dover – Dunkerque every year on DFDS ferries. And it is extremely important that we continuously meet the demands of our customers. Therefore, we have decided to deploy a new ship specially designed for our services from 2021. The ship will be built in Avic Weihai shipyard in China and our Newbuilding Department will follow the building process closely.

“Since the ship has not yet been built, we have great opportunities to make sure that it is designed to give our guests the best possible experience with a completely new ship. We will charter the ship and operate it for 10 years with an option to buy it after that. And since we are considering replacing the fleet on the Channel in 2031, the timing is really good,” says Peder Gellert, EVP of the Shipping Division.

 

 

 

Four DFDS captains have been testing in simulators how to navigate the future ship to make sure that the new ship is best fitted out for the conditions on the Channel.

“When sailing on the Channel, we need to ensure that the ship is at least as fast in arrival and departure situations as our current ships. Therefore, we have made modifications to increase manoeuvrability,” says Henrik Tidblad, Commercial Fleet Director.

 

 

 

The ship will be able to carry 3,100 lane metres of cargo and 1,000 passengers. With this capacity, it will be the largest of our channel ships.

“I am really looking forward to getting this fantastic ship to boost the business on the Channel. This new ship gives us excellent opportunities to develop our business on the commercial side. A newbuild ship will give us the flexibility to make room for tax-free shopping, depending on the outcome of Brexit. Together with an architect, we will design the interior of the ship to make sure we maximise our opportunities,” says Kasper Moos, VP & Head of BU Channel.

 

 

The ship will be delivered in 2021, and market developments will determine whether it will be as an addition to our existing fleet or a replacement.

BU Channel Goes Live with 24/7 Customer SMS Notifications

Hayley Hollett Duty Operations Manager, Dover training Matthew Davidson Manifest Supervisor on the Textlocal application.

The team on BU Channel are always looking for new initiatives to enhance communication with our customers and have launched a new SMS service to take our customer care once step further.

In the event of a delayed service our team in Dover, Dunkirk and Calais keep our guests updated with live port and sailing information via our Twitter Travel Updates handle @DFDSUKUpdates and via our staff at check-in and in the car lanes. We also use public address announcements and departure and arrival screens at our port terminals. From Thursday 7 December these methods of contact were enhanced with the addition of new SMS alerts for all customers who have provided DFDS with a mobile telephone number at the time of booking. The SMS provides an update on the expected check-in time for all Channel routes and provides information in the event of delays. Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager BU Channel said: “It’s crucial that our guests are kept fully informed of the situation in the event of a delayed service and by sending a SMS directly to our guests we’re offering the quickest solution to ensure their expectations are met.”