Kasper Moos, head of short routes and passenger for DFDS, tells Breaking Travel News how the ferry sector is coping post-Covid-19 and why the pandemic could spark a boom in no-fly holidays
As the travel sector starts to reopen following a months-long shutdown caused by Covid-19, prospective holidaymakers are looking for reassurance, open spaces and a chance to make the most of their new-found freedom.
While tourism faces a number of challenges in responding to the new world of travel and changing customer expectations, our industry is uniquely positioned to adapt.
Passengers are rediscovering ferry travel as a safe way to start their holidays and to reach a host of great destinations on the near Continent and further afield.
Two weeks after the UK government lifted its quarantine, bookings on our ferry services are starting to build.
Already we’re at 35 per cent of our usual volumes for the summer peak on our routes between the UK and France, and as the school summer holidays edge closer, we’re expecting a late surge in demand as people decide to hit the road to discover a great summer destination.
DFDS’ routes offer great connections into the main European motorway network, opening up a host of options to those seeking to pack up the car for a home away from home experience.
A simple, short ferry ride can bring hundreds of destinations closer than many people think, from the stunning coastlines of Northern France, to the delights of the Dordogne, or the magnificent mountains of northern Germany.
A key part of our unique appeal is our ability to offer access to plenty of space, fantastic onboard cafes and restaurants, and access to outside decks offering stunning sea views all as part of the journey experience.
Passengers on our ferry services can enjoy the simple pleasures of a fresh sea breeze and a chance to unwind for a relaxing start to their holiday.
We hope that changing consumer behaviour after the pandemic will see a real renaissance in ferry travel, which has come a long way since the booze cruises and cut-price offers of the 1990s.
Our number one priority has always been the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crews.
The precautions we are taking to reassure holidaymakers in the wake of the pandemic mean we can support socially distanced travel, while still offering the excellent customer service and familiar onboard concepts that our customers love.
We are constantly seeking to enhance the passenger experience and keep delivering ‘better every time’ when customers travel with us.
That ability to adapt and respond to customer’s expectations is what’s helped us to win eight consecutive ‘Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator’ titles at the World Travel Awards (WTAs) – a record that we’re incredibly proud to have achieved.
There’s no greater accolade than the support of fellow travel industry professionals and the discerning customers who take part in the WTA voting each year.
Delivering the best possible onboard experience for our passengers is at the heart of everything we do.
Offering the chance to personalise their journey and make choices that are most suited to them by providing a range of different onboard concepts has been increasingly important as we’ve upgraded our fleet.
On our Dover to Dunkirk route, we introduced new concepts earlier this year.
There is an open and relaxing space with new décor, which is coincidentally well suited to the new environment of social distancing, and it has quickly become popular with passengers.
We’ll continue to improve our ships, including on our short routes across the Channel from Dover to Calais and Dunkirk or from Newhaven to Dieppe, and on our overnight route between Newcastle and Amsterdam, so that they continue to meet the high standards modern travellers demand.
When our new ship, Cote d’Opale arrives on our Dover to Calais route in summer next year, we’ll be able to offer even more improvements.
We hope that our continued investment in putting customers’ needs first will help us to retain our World Travel Awards titles over the years to come.
DFDS operates one of the largest networks of passenger and freight ferry routes in and around Europe.
Its UK ferry services run from Dover to Calais and Dunkirk, Newhaven to Dieppe and from Newcastle to Amsterdam.
Its pan-European services include routes from Copenhagen to Oslo, from Frederikshavn to Oslo, from Kiel or Karlshamn to Klaipeda, and from Paldiski to Hanko and Kapellskar.
Winners will be unveiled at a red-carpet gala ceremony in Antalya, with Europe’s travel and tourism leaders in attendance.