Although a small group of former SeaFrance staff in Dover protested at the entrance to the port’s Eastern Docks, all was quiet in Calais as DFDS-LD Lines opened their new joint service using the well-travelled LD-owned Norman Spirit on 17 February.
Rochester-born actress Kelly Brook cut a ribbon in a Dover quayside celebration that also saw Dover Harbour Board chairman Bob Goldfield present a commemorative plaque to DFDS senior vice-president Carsten Jensen and LD Lines’ managing director Christophe Santoni.
The Dover Harbour Board tug Doughty provided a water cannon salute as a lightly-loaded Norman Spirit made a first departure a little behind schedule at 1345. The vessel, previously running on charter for DFDS between Dover and Dunkirk, will provide a one-ship Calais service of five return sailings daily Monday to Saturday, with four on Sundays, until joined by an as yet unidentified second vessel.
Norman Spirit first served Dover from Ostend as RMT’s Prins Filip when new, and was briefly named Stena Royal before Dover-Calais sailings as P&OSL Aquitaine from 1999, when the route was a joint operated P&O-Stena Line operation. She became PO Aquitaine when the partnership ended in 2002, and Pride of Aquitaine from March 2003 until September 2005, when she was bought by LD Lines.