[EXCLUSIVE] DFDS Enhanced Lighthouse Café and Shopping on Dover – Calais Pair

By: Gary Andrews
Last updated:
CÔTE DES DUNES at Damen, Dunkerque January 2022. Image: DFDS.
CÔTE DES DUNES at Damen, Dunkerque January 2022. Image: DFDS.

Despite the severe impact of Covid-19 on the passenger ferry business, DFDS has continued to invest in their Channel routes.  Over the past year the company has seen the arrival of the E-Flexer CÔTE D’OPALE, and new Duty Free shops at Dunkerque and Calais.

Now, with hopeful signs of Summer 2022 offering restriction free travel, DFDS is further enhancing the travel experience.

Refit Programme Overview

The Dover – Calais “C-Class” ships CÔTE DES DUNES and CÔTE DES FLANDRES are refitting this month with a restyled shop and totally refurbished Lighthouse Café being installed.  In this article, we take an exclusive look at what is planned.  The areas have been designed by the well-regarded SMC-Design and are being fitted out by Trimline.

This year, the Dover – Dunkerque “D-Class” ships will visit the Fayard A/S yard at Odense, Denmark.  DOVER SEAWAYS comes off the route at 2200 on 21 January to take on stores, contractors equipment etc, then departs for drydock on 22 January.  She will be out of service for four weeks.  Next will be the DELFT SEAWAYS for three weeks and finally the DUNKERQUE SEAWAYS 3 weeks.   

DFDS's Dover - Dunkerque Ro-Pax DELFT SEAWAYS. DFDS.
DFDS’s Dover – Dunkerque Ro-Pax DELFT SEAWAYS. Image: DFDS.

The remaining areas of the ships not attended to in 2019 or 2020 will be the focus. This means that the Roadkings Freight Drivers Area and the 7 Seas Restaurant will be refurbished.  The investment in these improved facilities is approximately €9.3 million across the three Dunkerque ships.

The design work for the refurbishment has again been carried out by SMC-Design.  However, the fit-out for the Dunkerque vessels will be done by Belfast and Southampton based Aecor Marine.

There will also be sustainability works to allow the recovery of heat from the funnel to heat the engine oil. This results in a reduction in fuel consumption.

All ships should be back in service just before the Easter Peak period.  The longer dock for the DOVER SEAWAYS is due to a need for an incline test following the exhaust works.

In a future update, we will bring you more details.

Matching the French newcomer

The primary aim of the CÔTE DES DUNES and CÔTE DES FLANDRES refits is to bring some of their key facilities up to the standard of the new CÔTE D’OPALE. This will ensure consistency of product on the Dover – Calais route.

CÔTE D'OPALE at Calais in November 2021. Image: Matt Sudders.
CÔTE D’OPALE at Calais in November 2021. Image: Matt Sudders.

The French-flagged fleet mates were built to largely the same design, though four years apart.  In terms of passenger space layout, they are pretty much identical. Both ships have spent their entire career to date on the Dover – Calais route but are now on their third operator.

The ‘Dunes was constructed in 2001 by Aker Finnyards, Finland as the SEAFRANCE RODIN for SeaFrance, later joining MyFerryLink in 2015 as the RODIN. The ‘Flandres was built at Chantiers de l’Atlantique, France in 2005 as the SEAFRANCE BERLIOZ of SeaFrance, similarly becoming the BERLIOZ of MyFerryLink in 2015.  

Following the end of the MyFerryLink service, the pair joined the DFDS fleet in 2016.

Both ships were gutted before joining the Danish company with interiors being totally renewed. Six years later we now see the first major changes being made. The only previous change was the 2019 introduction of the Horizon Pizza, Pasta and Salad concept which resulted in significant modifications to the servery in the forward Deck 7 outlet.

The CÔTE DES DUNES went to dry-dock at Damen Shiprepair, Dunkerque on 3 January and is currently due back in service on 19 January.  CÔTE DES FLANDRES will take her place and should return to the Dover – Calais route on or around 3 February.

DFDS C-Class Onboard Plan. Image: DFDS.
DFDS C-Class Onboard Plan. Image: DFDS.

Shopping in the new Duty Free era

The one area of the ships which has changed least during their career is that of the onboard shop Midships on Deck 7.  Although built after the end of previous Duty Free regulations, both ships benefited from larger than average sized shops.

However, the return of Duty Free following the UK’s exit from the European Union combined with the changing trends in travel retail has meant that a renewal of the shop on both vessels is now necessary.

Whilst not quite having the “wow factor” of the CÔTE D’OPALE’s 1100m2 atrium shop, the design is inspired by the E-Flexer and incorporates the latest shopping features.  There will be demonstration areas, modern shelving appropriate to product types and an increased focus on consumer electronics, higher end toys and fashion.  

The layout is also improved to provide a better passenger flow with the anticipated increase in custom.

DFDS C-Class revised Shop layout render. Image: DFDS.
DFDS C-Class revised Shop layout render. Image: DFDS.

Successful roll-out of coffee shop brand

In the 2019 Dover – Dunkerque vessel refits, the Lighthouse Café concept was developed into a contemporary coffee shop brand.  Attempting to be reassuringly akin to the popular coffee venues ashore, the new design was universally well received.  

The same concept was deployed on the CÔTE D’OPALE as part of her newbuild fit-out. It inevitably makes sense to now bring the concept to the remaining two Dover DFDS ferries.

The refresh will bring an entirely new look and feel to the aft area of Deck 7.  The bright, contemporary colours combining with the smell of quality coffee and alluring cake displays are sure to make it a popular area for passengers.

The features in the new look Lighthouse Café include decorative wall and bar pendants, high stools and lounge sofas and chairs with side tables.

The capacity of the area will increase slightly from 342 to 351 passengers.

When the work to the two ships is finished, we will bring you images of the completed new look.

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