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New DFDS Dover – Calais ferry delivered

Stena RoRo and DFDS have both announced that the fifth Stena E-Flexer, CÔTE D’OPALE, has been delivered. The handover ceremony took place earlier today in Weihai, China, as scheduled. Despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut down production at the shipyard for a time and issues with equipment and personnel supplied from Europe, delivery took place some six weeks ahead of the contracted date.

The new ferry is expected to enter service on the Dover – Calais route during the summer. DFDS has confirmed that this will be in place of the much smaller CALAIS SEAWAYS. DFDS has agreed a long-term charter arrangement for the vessel with owner Stena RoRo. She will set sail for Europe in the coming days.

DFDS's new Dover - Calais ferry CÔTE D'OPALE. Image: Stena RoRo.
DFDS’s new Dover – Calais ferry CÔTE D’OPALE. Image: Stena RoRo.

Designed for The Channel

CÔTE D’OPALE is the biggest variation on Stena’s one-size-fits-all E-Flexer platform yet, having been specifically designed for the intensive Calais – Dover schedule. While the footprint of her public spaces remains similar to the four previous vessels in the series, the location of the facilities has been changed to reflect the demands of her route.

Significantly, the area used as a Cafe/Bar (Sky Bar on the Stena Line vessels) is a large duty-free shopping area on the new DFDS ferry.

Render of the shopping area with skylight - CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
Render of the shopping complex showing the skylight – CÔTE D’OPALE. (Credit: DFDS)
An artists rendering of part of the Duty Free shopping area, deck 8, CÔTE D'OPALE. Image: DFDS.
An artists rendering of part of the Duty Free shopping area, deck 8, CÔTE D’OPALE. Image: DFDS.

Commercial drivers are well catered for on CÔTE D’OPALE, with the forward area on Deck 7 which houses the main restaurant on the other E-Flexer vessels dedicated to them instead.

An artists rendering of the Road Kings commercial drivers restaurant onboard CÔTE D'OPALE. Image: DFDS.
An artists rendering of the Road Kings commercial drivers restaurant CÔTE D’OPALE’s deck 7. Image: DFDS.
An artists rendering of the Seven Seas restaurant on deck 8, CÔTE D'OPALE. Image: DFDS.
An artists rendering of the Seven Seas restaurant on deck 8, CÔTE D’OPALE. Image: DFDS.

The new build also foregoes the passenger cabins which have been a feature of the other E-Flexer vessels, in-part to provide additional public space.

An artists rendering of the Lighthouse Cafe on deck 8, CÔTE D'OPALE. Image: DFDS.
An artists rendering of the Lighthouse Cafe on deck 8, CÔTE D’OPALE. Image: DFDS.

See our special preview here for more information on CÔTE D’OPALE’s passenger areas. A virtual tour is available on the DFDS website.

Bow and stern access arrangements have also been changed for CÔTE D’OPALE in order to fit the linkspans at Dover and Calais. The already impressive manoeuvrability of the series has been enhanced with a third bow thruster specified for the 214.5m long ship.

More freight space

Despite having a revised superstructure shape, CÔTE D’OPALE has the same 3,100 lane metres of freight space available as on her part-sisters. In practice, due to the tight turnaround times on the Dover – Calais schedule, the lower hold will not be used. This reduces the effective freight space on the ferry to 2,755 lane metres – still 755m more than on the current largest DFDS ships on the route, CÔTE DES DUNES and CÔTE DES FLANDRES.

AN infographic comparing CALAIS SEAWAYS and Côte D'Opale. Image: DFDS.
An infographic comparing CALAIS SEAWAYS and Côte D’Opale. Image: DFDS.

The new ship also just edges P&O Ferries SPIRIT OF BRITAIN and SPIRIT OF FRANCE for dedicated freight lane metres, by 5m. 120 passenger cars will also be accommodated in a dedicated garage on deck 7, just like the Stena Line examples of the class STENA ESTRID, Edda, and Embla.

DFDS's new Dover - Calais ferry CÔTE D'OPALE at her builders yard in China. Image: Stena RoRo.
DFDS’s new Dover – Calais ferry CÔTE D’OPALE at her builders yard in China. Image: Stena RoRo.

However, unlike on P&O Ferries “Spirits”, the separate car-deck is accessed via a hoistable ramp from Deck 5. As this will increase turnaround time, it remains to be seen how often this separate deck will be used in practice.

Longest

Accommodation is provided for 1,000 passengers. While this is a cut from the 2,000 CALAIS SEAWAYS can accommodate, CÔTE D’OPALE’s effective 2,755 lane metres for freight is an increase of around 55% over the older vessel. This reflects changing trends in demand on the Dover Strait. Until the arrival of P&O Ferries’ new double-ended ferries, CÔTE D’OPALE will be the longest ferry in operation from Dover.

CALAIS SEAWAYS was originally built as RMT/RTM’s PRINS FILIP for the Ostend – Dover route. Following the collapse of that company, the ship came to DFDS via P&O Stena, P&O, TransEuropa Ferries and LD Lines.

Speaking on the delivery, Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS. said:

“With capacity for 160 trailers and space for 1000 passengers and crew, the Côte d’Opale is a fine example of how we combine cargo and passenger traffic without compromising the onboard experience. We appreciate Stena’s E-Flexer design, which has made it possible to adapt the ferry, in collaboration with Stena, to the wishes associated with the short crossings across the Channel”

“With this ferry, we will be able to offer our passengers a comfortable journey and an extraordinary shopping experience while accommodating growth and increasing operational efficiency. Due to the large capacity, energy consumption per trailer transported will be significantly decreased compared to Calais Seaways that will be replaced by Côte d’Opale.

”Instead of cabins, there are extra-large areas so passengers can spread out, relax and enjoy the great onboard facilities in a Covid-19 secure way. The bow and stern are especially designed to fit the quayside facilities in both ports, and in addition, it is equipped with a third bow thruster to facilitate the many daily manoeuvres in port.

https://www.dfds.com/en/about/media/news/cotedopale-delivered-to-dfds

Flexibility

Per Westling, CEO of Stena RoRo, was keen to highlight the flexibility of the E-Flexer design. He said:

“Our focus is to adapt the design to our customers’ specific wishes, and together with DFDS, we have jointly adapted the ferry’s unique design,”

“In addition to far-reaching demands regarding the environmental aspects and technology, flexibility is one of the main characteristics of the E-Flexer class.”

https://www.dfds.com/en/about/media/news/cotedopale-delivered-to-dfds

Separately, the first of DFDS’s new-builds for the Baltic Sea carried out sea trials last month. Named AURA SEAWAYS, the new ship is expected to be delivered later this year.

Steven Tarbox

Steven is a former retail professional and a ferry writer and photographer. He created NI Ferry Site as a web design project in 2014 to be a news and information source for everyone with an interest in ferries, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland. Steven is the editor of the website and looks after all of the technical aspects.
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