DFDS Seaways will tomorrow set sail for Norway on the Newcastle to Stavanger and Bergen route it has taken over from Fjord Line.

The move means the end of Fjord Line in the UK, which sold its ship, Fjord Norway, to DFDS in September. All 248 crew were made redundant, as were the company’s shore-based staff.

Fjord Line board director Peter Frølich said: “In today’s strained market, Fjord Line did not have the economical capacity and possibility to continue the [route]. With DFDS, the area will gain a strong and well-known operator.”

DFDS Seaways UK managing director John Crummie predicted this was the start of a period of consolidation in an industry which has been struggling to compete with low-cost carriers for several years.

DFDS itself has axed its Newcastle-Kristiansand-Gothenburg route because of falling numbers on the UK-Sweden sector. Crummie said: “Business to Gothenburg was falling and the route was not viable going forward.”

Princess of Scandinavia, which operated the Sweden route, has been sold and crew have been switched to the new ship, which was named Princess of Norway in a ceremony in Bergen on November 8. It starts sailing tomorrow after a £5 million refit to reflect DFDS’s corporate look and feel.

Crummie is convinced DFDS can make the Newcastle-Bergen route work, partly because the ferry operator can exploit marketing synergies with its service from Newcastle to Amsterdam but also because the fjord area is where most British travellers to Norway want to go. As a result, DFDS is increasing capacity by operating two crossings a week instead of one in winter, and three a week in summer, up from Fjord Line’s two.

Crummie said: “There is a strong inbound market from Norway, for shopping, culture and sporting events, and we will be working with local and national tourist boards in Norway to strengthen the appeal of the region in the UK.”


Pre-book clients’ ferry food

SeaFrance customers can now pre-book meals in the waiter-service La Brasserie restaurant from £15.90 per person for two courses including a kir apéritif and half a bottle of wine. Self-service meals in Le Relais are available from £9.45, for a starter, main course, dessert and drink.

Pay per coach with Red Funnel

Southampton-Cowes ferry operator Red Funnel is to charge groups per coach rather than per passenger after introducing the new pricing structure for 2006. Prices for 2007 start from £183 for a day trip by coach and £268 for a short break.

New systems takes flight

Condor Ferries has launched a new reservations and online booking system for travel next year which will process bookings more efficiently and enable agents to view account statements online. Agents can also order the new Condor Ferries 2007 timetables and brochures at condorferries.com.

Norwegian fjord stays and tours added to DFDS Seaways Brochure

DFDS Seaways has added self-catering cottages, hotels and motoring tours around the Norwegian fjords to its 2007 Holiday Collection brochure for clients sailing on its new route from Newcastle to Bergen.

UK managing director John Crummie said the new content had to be added fast after DFDS acquired the new ship and route.

A second-edition brochure with an expanded range of holiday options will be launched in January.

He said: “Fjord Line’s holiday programme was always strong in the UK so we will be looking at what they did.”

The first-edition brochure features a 10-night King and Queen of the Fjords motoring tour from Bergen to Stavanger from £582 per person including return ferry crossings with a car and inside cabins.

Cottages cost from £335 per week for a log cabin by the Hardangerfjord for up to seven people, excluding ferry travel.

The brochure also features three new holiday centres in Denmark and two more Center Parcs in Belgium.