Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2021

7 9 Brittany Ferries marked the end of Galicia’s first commercial voyage from Santander, Spain to Portsmouth, England with a fireworks display on 3 December 2020 and low energy consumption. We took inspiration from our Visentini-class vessels and our large and standardised ro-ro vessels, such as Stena Transporter and Stena Transit. CQ : Brittany Ferries has a long-term fleet renewal and expansion strategy, so we always keep an eye on the market and explore different options for new vessels. When Stena RoRo asked if we wanted to purchase an E-Flexer, we evaluated the design and decided it met our needs for the routes linking Portsmouth, England and Santander, Spain, and Portsmouth and Cherbourg, France. For example, the 215-metre-long vessel (now named Galicia) had capacity to accommodate all freight and passengers on the routes, while her green technologies will help us meet our emissions and environmental sustainability goals. The flexibility to customise the design was an added benefit and we’ve since purchased two more E-Flexers – Salamanca and Santoña, which will debut in 2022 and 2023. What customisations were you able to make to your E-Flexer? PA : The key principle of the E-flexers was to develop a standardised but versatile ro-pax platform. Stena Line’s five vessels all have the exact same configuration, although the last two are bigger with additional cabins and more lane metres. However, the platform is so flexible that it will allow for adaptions and conversions in future, for example changing propulsion or electrifying the ferries. We’ve tested the vessels on several routes, and they work well everywhere. KM : Cote D’Opale is optimised for operating cross-Channel services between Dover, England and Calais, France, so she has a different design to other E-Flexers. The bow, stern and cargo loading equipment are arranged differently to facilitate fast unloading and loading in port and we’ve replaced passenger cabins with an additional car deck and more public spaces. The interior design has also been adapted to ensure it is consistent with other DFDS ferries and also meets current and future passenger expectations. As always, we had to make design compromises, but we worked closely with Stena RoRo to create a vessel that fully meets market requirements and improves the overall passenger experience. CQ : Galicia has the same basic structure, technical systems and interior layout as the other E-Flexers, but we’ve added an extra 100 passenger cabins to ensure we have the right balance between space for customers, their cars and freight vehicles. We’ve also adapted elements such as colours, fabrics, carpets and artwork to reflect Brittany Ferries’ branding and create our first-ever Spanish-inspired interiors. It was challenging, but we successfully transformed an off-the-shelf ferry into a bespoke vessel that feels like she has been specifically designed for Brittany Ferries and the routes she operates. How do the completed vessels compare against your expectations and how will you gauge their success? PA : Our first three E-flexers are now trading in the Irish Sea and have been very well-received by both our customers and the wider market. We are very happy with the capacity they offer and the broad range of onboard experiences they provide to guests, both from an interior and outlet perspective. We’re more than satisfied with their performance and the operational expense development is better than expected. They are very efficient. KM : Cote D’Opale will begin service in summer 2021 and our main metrics for evaluating her success will be whether the advanced engine and other Photo: Strong Island Media/Portsmouth International Port