Inside new £100 million ferry as operator remains optimistic about travel future

Tap to watch a video report on the launch of the new ferry

The shop is stocked, tablets set ands balloons blown up.

The £100 million Côte D'Opale is ready to set sail but just how many passengers will be travelling from Dover to Calais on the ship this summer?

Chris Parker, Director of Capacity and Performance says,

"We know there is demand out there because we can see how many people can visit our website every day.

"What we have seen is people visit our website and haven't necessarily been booking or when they are booking they are it's for the next few days. There isn't a great deal of confidence in people booking for the longer period for the rest of the summer.

"We hope with the announcements that we expect to come that the confidence will come back and we're looking forward to seeing more passengers travel with us."

A lounge area on board the Côte D'Opale Credit: ITV Meridian

The outcome relies on the Government's outlook on international travel.

A decision on which countries will be placed on the green, amber and red lists could impact future bookings with France currently ranked 'amber plus'.

It means that even people who have received two Covid-19 vaccinations will still have to quarantine on their return to England, over concerns about the spread of the Beta variant of the virus.

Green and amber list travel: What you need to know

What does it mean when a country is on the green list?

It's important to note that just because a country is on the UK's green list, it doesn't necessarily mean the country is accepting UK citizens - Australia being one example - so check with the relevant country's government website for their latest rules on tourist arrivals.

People who are travelling to countries on the green list will need to take a Covid test up to 72 hours before they return to the UK and a single PCR test on or before day two of their arrival into the UK - but you do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive.Children aged four and under are exempt from the test.

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What countries are on the green list?

From 4am on Monday 30 August, the Azores, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland will be added to the green list. These are the other countries already on the list:

  • Australia

  • Austria

  • Brunei

  • Bulgaria,

  • Caribbean Islands (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Barbados, Dominica, Granada, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands)

  • Croatia

  • Falkland Islands

  • Faroe Islands

  • Germany

  • Gibraltar

  • Hong Kong

  • Iceland

  • Israel and Jerusalem

  • Latvia

  • Malta

  • Madeira

  • New Zealand

  • Norway

  • Romania

  • Singapore

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

  • Taiwan

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What countries are on the amber list?

No countries are being added to the amber list as part of the traffic light list changes coming into effect on Monday 30 August.There are currently more than 130 other countries on the amber list, including popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. The full list of amber list countries can be found on the UK government website.

What does it mean when a country is on the amber list?

If you're over 18 and not had two Covid vaccinations, on arrival in the UK from amber list countries you need to:

  • take a Covid test up to 72 hours before you return to the UK

  • quarantine for 10 days

  • take a test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 after arriving in the UK.

However, if you've been fully vaccinated in the UK or under 18, you don't need to quarantine or take a day 8 test after you get back, but you still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving. You must have had your final dose of the vaccine at least 14 whole days before the date you arrive in England to be considered as fully vaccinated under the amber list rules.

Separate to these rules for UK citizens, since 2 August people fully vaccinated in the USA or most European countries will not need to quarantine if they have been in an amber list country in the 10 days before arriving. They will still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving.

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DFDS, along with all ferry operators, hope the risk level for anyone returning from across the channel will be downgraded.

With current passenger levels between 20-30% of what they were before the pandemic any increase is seen as positive.

DFDS is hopeful passenger numbers will start to increase Credit: DFDS is hopeful passenger numbers will start to increase

After cutting 650 jobs last year, the company is looking to the future by creating new opportunities with the Côte D'Opale a significant investment.

Captain David Poisson says,

"I'm very proud to be on the ship it means the future is brighter than ever with a ship like this. DFDS has invested so much money meaning that for the future it is brighter than ever even with the situation regarding Covid-19. This is a clear sense that we are going in the right direction.

"Everyone wants to travel now, there's been so much lockdown in every country and now lockdown is over people want to travel so bringing in a new ship at this time is giving a good feeling."

"We can't wait for the ship to start rotations."

With two engines instead of four there will be a 25% reduction in fuel consumption compared to the rest of the fleet, Côte D'Opale represents a green future for DFDS.