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Ryan_H

Dover-France with DFDS

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A recent trip to see massive attack In  Brussels provided an opportunity for a ferry trip, we booked a 72 hour return with DFDS...

 

31/01/19 – 09.10 Dover-Calais on Calais Seaways  

I was pleased to see that we’d be sailing out on this particular ship, since I’d read a lot about her a lot but never actually experienced this vessel for myself. I was keen to see what DFDS had done (or not done) to revive her interior, given some of the many ‘mixed’ reviews I’d read over the years. Upon checking in we were given our code for the ‘Premium Lounge’ which we had pre-booked at £12 each.

We parked up on deck 5, with very few other cars visible but plenty of lorries. We then managed to locate the nearest stairs and made our way up to the Premium Lounge on deck 9. On arrival at the stairwell on deck 8 we found access roped-off, but a very friendly crew member quickly appeared and escorted us up to the lounge. He explained that we appeared to be the only passengers using the lounge on this crossing, so we had the entire area to ourselves. We’d previously used the ‘Club lounge’ on P&O but this was a much larger space, with plenty of tables and comfortable chairs. We could help ourselves to coffee, tea, pastries, fruit etc as well as a selection of newspapers. We were also offered a glass of sparkling wine, though we declined this in view of the time of day (though I was tempted!) Part of the rationale for booking the lounge for this crossing was so that we could relax a bit and use it as a means of having breakfast ;) As can be imagined, this was just about the most comfortable way to experience a Dover-Calais crossing and it was thoroughly enjoyable to have this private space at our disposal.

After departure from Dover I decided to try and find my way outside for some fresh air, which proved quite difficult since all of the doors to the outside decks appeared to be roped off. In the end I asked at reception and was told that the only area available was at the stern on deck 7, so that’s where I went. I did find this a little frustrating, but it was bitterly cold and with the recent snow there were probably some genuine safety concerns, plus with such a small number of passengersaboard it was perhaps not deemed worth it.  

Once I’d had my fix of freezing cold air I decided to have a look around the passenger areas, and was struck by how pleasant they were. The shop in particular was well stocked with some heavily reduced bargains to be had. The interior felt light and airy and everywhere I saw looked very clean and well kept. I could find very few signs of the ship’s previous careers other than the attractive brass handrails in the stairwells, which I assume are original.  

All too soon we were approaching the berth in Calais and as we said goodbye to the steward in the Premium Lounge, I told him it had been my best crossing ever on the Dover-Calais route.  

 

03/02/19 – 16.00 Dunkerque-Dover on Dunkerque Seaways  

We arrived at the port just after 3.30pm, so I was mentally prepared for the prospect that we might have to wait for the next sailing rather than the one we had booked. As I suspected, the man at the check –in booth informed us check-in had closed, and that we would have to wait for the 18.00hrs sailing. Whilst this was a bit irritating since we could see the ship was still on the berth, it was ultimately our own fault and we resigned ourselves to having to sit and wait. However, once through passport control, we were directed to a different lane to that on our mirror-hanger and, to our pleasant surprise, were then waved on to the waiting Dunkerque Seaways.

We were again parked on deck 5, having negotiated what is a fairly steep ramp for cars. This again looked to be a lightly-loaded sailing with plenty of empty lanes.   Having made our way upstairs the first area we encountered was the ‘Lighthouse’ café, which appears to have been recently refurbished, with new carpets and seating. Once again, finding a route outside in order to watch our departure froma beautifully sunny (but freezing) Dunkirk proved tricky, but I eventually found my way to the stern of the vessel, where it was pleasing to see the red ensign flying as we reversed away from the berth. I remained outside until we were passing Gravelines, with the nuclear power station clearly visible on the horizon, before I succumbed to the cold.  

We spent the remainder of the crossing making a few purchases in the ‘sea shop’ (mainly wine) and then in the ‘seven seas’ restaurant area which overlooks the bow on the same deck. Having eaten quite a large lunch in Ostend, we only purchased drinks, but this was a lovely space to sit and watch the crossing from. Our route seemed to follow the French coast for as long as possible, before finally turning towards Dover. The design of this class of ship seems to suite the route very well with the panoramic windows being an excellent feature. Overall the ship was very pleasant and kept clean and tidy throughout, though this was far from a busy sailing. Arrival in Dover was on time and were soon on our way home just after 5.30pm.  

Conclusions;   Both crossings were very pleasant but it was the Calais Seaways which I enjoyed the most, not only because of the ‘Premium lounge’ experience but because I think she must now be the only ship left on this route with any kind of character or charm about her, though admittedly I haven’t tried the ex-SeaFrance sisters yet. The crews on both ships were very professional and helpful and we were left with a positive impression overall. I will certainly use DFDS next time I sail from Dover, in preference to P&O.   

Apologies for the photo quality - some had to be taken through the window because I couldn't get outside 🙄

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Edited by Ryan_H
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I have £50 of Tesco  vouchers which would give me £150 towards a DFDS fare. If I lived closer I would use them on that fine ship. Irish ferries and P&O accept them at that triple rate too . Hello Brittany Ferries commercial manager ! 

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35 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

She looks a million times better than she did when I sailed on her that’s for sure.

Wow, it's hard to believe it's the same ferry. They have really spent some money making her look nice. 

Ryan, thanks for the ferry review. Now, what about the Massive Attack concert? I'm hesitating whether to try and get tickets to see them Nantes next week. Ed. 

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54 minutes ago, wortley said:

I have £50 of Tesco  vouchers which would give me £150 towards a DFDS fare. If I lived closer I would use them on that fine ship. Irish ferries and P&O accept them at that triple rate too . Hello Brittany Ferries commercial manager ! 

However IF charge a fee for using Tesco vouchers so it is not the good deal it appears to be

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43 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Wow, it's hard to believe it's the same ferry. They have really spent some money making her look nice. 

Ryan, thanks for the ferry review. Now, what about the Massive Attack concert? I'm hesitating whether to try and get tickets to see them Nantes next week. Ed. 

Haha, I would say go for it. The tickets were actually a Christmas present for my girlfriend, I'm ashamed to say I probably only recognised about 3 songs, but they put on an amazing show both musically & visually. 

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