DFDS unveils the technical and passenger area upgrades Dunkerque Seaways has undergone, and why
DFDS’ Dunkerque Seaways has undergone a major technical and interior refit, spanning freshwater ballast systems and technical upgrades, new lighting and new passenger areas.
DFDS commercial director Steve Newbery tells Passenger Ship Technology “All our ships have a technical service every year. This year there are some big upgrades with freshwater ballast systems and electrical upgrades.”
DFDS started its upgrade progamme on its trio of Dover-Dunkirk ferries at the start of 2019. “We decided to do a route upgrade on all three of our vessels on the Dover-Dunkerque route as the ships are 14-15 years old and now in need of modernising. Fifteen years is a long time and the traveller expects a certain quality today.”
This is the first time the ferry operator has taken these vessels back to bare metal and used Aecor Marine to rebuild them. “So, we have to allow for the unexpected,” Mr Newbery points out.
Mr Newbery also singled out lighting as being an important part of the refit. “Lighting has moved on so much in the last 15 years. It was a big challenge to get it right and bring the right atmosphere to the ship. Old lighting had to be removed and we worked with SMC Design to create a new 4k LED lighting design to replace it, giving a very different feel. Remodelling to give a more open feel meant we had to work with existing fire barriers, so a creative design approach was needed.”
The new features and amenities added focused on three large upgrades. The first is a new Premium lounge to replace the “very outdated one we had”. Mr Newbery adds “Passengers told us what they wanted and we have responded.”
He says the new Premium lounge has been remodelled so it is more open and has full sea views. The lounge has comfy armchairs and sofa seating as well as a purpose-built area for the included coffee, pastries, chocolates and cold drinks from the fridge. “We have made it lounge style to enable families and travellers to relax,” Mr Newbery adds. Wifi is free in this area and movies can be streamed.
The second upgrade is the new Relax lounge. Mr Newbery explains “This area was a dead space on the ship and our passengers did not seem to want to use it. We have created a new Relax lounge to cater for the passenger that wants to sleep, relax in peace and float away as they may have a long journey ahead of them or have had a long journey. The well-being of our passengers is very important to us. We have listened to this and the Relax lounge is the get-away-from-it-all area where we only have emergency announcements, mobile phones must be on silent and the passenger can relax or sleep in a quiet area.”
Finally, DFDS addressed a gap in its food and beverage offer, by introducing its Horizon Pizza Pasta Salad concept. Mr Newbery expands “All food is freshly made to order and the passengers receive a buzzer. No need to wait in a queue for food or wonder if someone has forgotten you. As soon as your order is ready, the buzzer buzzes and you take your buzzer back to the collection area and collect your food. This offer is aimed at families and those that want a lighter option. The pasta and salads are all fresh and the design of the area is of a modern design that passengers can relax in, feel comfortable in and is of a high standard.”
He adds “All three designs are done with vibrant colours and take advantage of the sea views. The design also compliments the Light House café that was completed last year, as this area is below the Horizon and the two areas work well together.”
DFDS has also added TVs in the port side of the café and introduced scalability doors so it can keep the best atmosphere for its passengers.
Highlighting the benefits for both customers and passengers, he says “For DFDS this means we can market our product to appeal to families and travellers that want to take a slower pace and keep away from the madness of airports.
These products meet the standards people want from ferry travel… ferries are comfortable places where you can have a fantastic experience. Passengers want a travel experience where they can create memories and have fun on route to their destination. These concepts give them just that. It also shows the traveller that DFDS is aware that standards and passenger service are foremost in their mind.”
When it comes to the main drydock considerations, Mr Newbery says time is the main issue as the company only has 14 days to complete each ship, “so the design and work packages have to be well thought out and close co-operation with both our onboard, technical and contractor teams is essential”.
DFDS is looking at how it can bring the look and feel of these new areas to all of its Dover-Calais route ferries. In mid-2021 its new ship Cote D’ Opale will replace Calais Seaways and this ferry will have the same main concepts and colours but also a large shopping area that will be exclusive to this new ship.
Asked about the yard chosen for refits, Mr Newbery says “The Damen shipyard in Dunkerque is often used for refits on the two main Channel routes as it is close to the route and enables us to maximise the small window we have. It keeps disruption to our timetable to a minimum.”
Snapshot CV: Steve Newbery (DFDS)
Steve Newbery is responsible for onboard commercial activities on all cross-Channel ferry routes from Dover, France and North Sea Ferries UK to Holland in his role as onboard commercial director. He is responsible for food, beverages and retail on these ferries. He took on the role in March 2018. Previously he was food, beverage and retail manager at Center Parcs, but after 3.5 years of continuous profit growth and building a strong team across retail, food and beverage, he decided to leave to take up a new challenge with DFDS Seaways. Prior to that, he was at The Sprit Group from 2000 to 2008.