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Côte D’Opale – First Details Emerge Of DFDS’ New E-Flexer Ferry

Côte D'Opale Fast Facts

Current Name: Côte D'OpalePrevious Names: ZHAO SHANG 268 / China Merchants Jinling W0268 [yard names]
Shipyard: China Merchants Jinling Shipyard (Weihai) Co. Ltd. [CN], W0268, IMO Number: 9858321
Current Operator: DFDSCurrent Route: Dover [GB] - Calais [FR]
Length Overall: Beam:
Passenger Capacity: 1000Vehicle Capacity: Up to 3,100 lane metres of freight (plus 120 passenger cars in their own dedicated garage on deck 7)
Tonnage: Sister-ships: Côte D'Opale is a unique member of the Stena E-Flexer Class

In April 2018, DFDS announced a 10-Year charter of Stena RoRo’s fifth E-Flexer class ferry, being built at AVIC Weihai Shipyard Co., Ltd, China (now China Merchants Jinling (Weihai) Shipyard).

Launched as CÔTE D’OPALE (Hull W0268) on 20 May 2020, the ferry is due in service on the Dover – Calais route during Summer 2021. With sea trials due in May, she is now in the final stages of fitting out. Only 15% of her total build is left to complete.

E-Flexer number 5, DFDS's COTE D"OPALE undergoing fitting out at Weihai, China. DFDS
E-Flexer number 5, DFDS’ CÔTE D’OPALE undergoing fitting out at Weihai, China, during 2020. DFDS

Operating the shortest route to date for an E-Flexer with a 90-minute crossing, unlike the earlier versions for Stena Line and Brittany Ferries, this ship needs no passenger cabins. This results in a very different layout for her 1000 guests.

If you aren’t familiar with this class of ship, check out the ship guides for STENA ESTRID and GALICIA for a reference point.

Deck 7

As with the STENA ESTRID, STENA EDDA and STENA EMBLA, aft is a dedicated car deck (lower height lane metres) with direct walk-through access to CÔTE D’OPALE‘s passenger facilities.

Dedicated car deck on Deck 7 of CÔTE D’OPALE (Credit: DFDS).
Dedicated car deck on Deck 7 of CÔTE D’OPALE (Credit: DFDS).

CÔTE D’OPALE‘s Deck 7 passenger amenities will be primarily dedicated to a Road Kings Drivers area, offering commercial vehicle passengers what are believed to be the most significant facilities on any Cross-Channel ferry. The ship is expected to frequently host around 130 drivers per crossing between Dover and Calais.

Road Kings Dining Area on Deck 7 of the CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Road Kings Dining Area on Deck 7 of the CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)

There will be extensive toilet and shower facilities, relaxing lounge spaces and a big dining area, including a large servery to quickly feed drivers on the short crossing.

Road Kings Servery on Deck 7 of the CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS).
Road Kings Servery on Deck 7 of the CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS).

Deck 7 also contains COTE D’OPALE’s Main Galley and large areas for stores.

CÔTE D’OPALE Galley on Deck 7. (Credit: DFDS)
CÔTE D’OPALE Galley on Deck 7. (Credit: DFDS)

Deck 8

Deck 8 of CÔTE D’OPALE is almost unrecognisable in layout compared to the first four ships of the E-Flexer series.

Seven Seas Restaurant

Forward is the 7 Seas Restaurant (Self Service). This encompasses the entire front section of the ship. On the earlier E-Flexer classes, lounge space, the premium lounge and a second restaurant (RoRo Drivers on the Stena ships and Tapas Restaurant on GALICIA) could be found in this area.

A children’s play area is located within the 7 Seas Restaurant area.

Shopping Complex

The atrium space, which is a bar aboard the earlier E-Flexers, becomes an impressive 1,100 square metre “venue-type” shopping complex aboard the CÔTE D’OPALE. There are separate “wings” within the area for each product category. Alcohol and Tobacco, and Perfumes and Cosmetics have their own “shops within a shop”. This makes the new ship probably the best equipped of any ferry in U.K. waters for the return of Duty Free shopping.

Steve Newbery, DFDS; 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.”

Render of the shopping area with skylight - CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Render of the complex showing the skylight – CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)

Also located in this area will be a Currency Exchange Bureau on the Starboard side and a Guest Services Centre on the Port side.

CÔTE D’OPALE's Atrium on Deck 8 will be a "venue-driven" shopping area (Credit: DFDS).
CÔTE D’OPALE’s Atrium on Deck 8 will be a “venue-driven” shopping area (Credit: DFDS).

Lighthouse Cafe and Premium Lounge

The Aft area of CÔTE D’OPALE‘s Passenger Accommodation occupies what is a cabin area on previous E-Flexers. This plays host to a large Lighthouse Café (Coffee Shop) and a Premium Lounge on the DFDS ship. A second Children’s Play Area will be sited within the Lighthouse Café area.

Lighthouse Café - Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Lighthouse Café – Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Lighthouse Café - Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Lighthouse Café – Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)

CÔTE D’OPALE‘s Premium Lounge is located on the aft half of the Starboard side, whilst the Lighthouse Café occupies the rest of this area.

Lighthouse Café - Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Lighthouse Café – Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)

There is a significant Sun Deck at the aft end of Deck 8, including a dedicated area for Premium Lounge guests and an outside bar.

Premium Lounge - Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Premium Lounge – Deck 8 CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)

The Lighthouse Café and Premium Lounge are continuations of the successful concepts introduced to the Dover – Dunkerque D-Class vessels in 2019 and 2020.

Lighthouse Café DELFT SEAWAYS. (Credit: Gary Andrews)
Lighthouse Café DELFT SEAWAYS. (Credit: Gary Andrews)
Render of D-Class Premium Lounge - CÔTE D’OPALE will have same style. (Credit: DFDS)
Render of D-Class Premium Lounge – CÔTE D’OPALE will have same style. (Credit: DFDS)
The significant Aft Outside Deck space on Deck 8 can be seen in this view of COTE D'OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
The significant Aft Outside Deck space on Deck 8 can be seen in this view of COTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)

Deck 9

Crew Areas

Deck 9 Aft features passenger cabins on the first four E-Flexers. On the CÔTE D’OPALE this is a dedicated crew deck. Included are 105 cabins, day rooms, gyms, offices etc. The Bridge is also located on this Deck.

CÔTE D’OPALE Bridge on Deck 9 . (Credit: DFDS)
CÔTE D’OPALE Bridge on Deck 9 . (Credit: DFDS)

NIFS looks forward to bringing further updates on what promises to be the most unique vessel of this class. With thanks to DFDS.

Gary Andrews

Experienced Maritime Professional, a specialist in ship and port operations, Business Development and Customer Experience, Gary has worked for some of Europe’s leading ferry companies. You can follow Gary on Twitter at @garyandrews77
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