Norfolkline ferries were a company founded in the early sixties in Holland, originally known as Norfolk Lijn N.V. It took a while to get the ferry side of things up and running, as it wasn’t until 1969 that the company acquired their first ferry. However, the company was sold, and renamed Norfolk Line in 1974. The company was recently taken over by DFDS Seaways. The two companies have combined to offer 2 of the most popular ferry crossings to France: Dover to Dunkirk, which was originally run by Norfolkline, and Dover to Calais, which DFDS recently started to offer since the demise of SeaFrance.


In 1985, the Maersk Group bought the company. This was the best thing to happen to Norfolk Lines, as the company then went from strength to strength. In 1992, the company replaced their service to Great Yarmouth with one to Felixstowe instead. The shorter journey time from the port to London meant that it became hugely popular with people trying to reach the capital. Despite the fact the company now really had nothing to do with Norfolk, they kept their branding and their reputation increased.

By the mid-nineties, Norfolk Line had grown and expanded into other areas of transportation. In 1995, they started investing in freight services by railway after merging with the rail company Skandi. They also expanded their ferry division and bought four new ships in 1996. By 1998, they had also launched a division of ships that were refrigerated. Norfolk Line was then rebranded as Norfolkline.

Since the millennium, Norfolkline have grown enormously. By 1999, they had a second refrigerated vessel in service, and in 2000 a new route was added going from Dover to Dunkirque. In 2004, the company also expanded into rail once more, providing a service from the United Kingdom to Italy. They also bought out another company in 2006 and acquired their Irish Sea ferries. One of the most recent additions to the routes already on offer is the Vlaardingen to Felixstowe crossing.

The ferry part of the company provides services across the North Sea, the Irish Sea, and across the English Channel. The North Sea routes tend to be freight-only services, whereas the other crossings are both freight and passenger services, although some foot passengers are allowed onto the North Sea crossings. The company’s success means that they have been able to invest in new ships. The result of this has been that Norfolklines have been given awards for their vessels, particularly the ones running between Dover and Dunkirque.

Ferry travel is better for the environment than travelling by plane, but Norfolkline have gone one step further than this. The refrigerated ships the company invested in are mostly recyclable, and the company as a whole has endeavoured to reduce their carbon footprint. In 2010, Norfolkline was bought from Maersk by the massive ferry company DFDS, and all routes and vessels were integrated into their services. This means that Norfolkline is now part of one of the largest ferry companies in the world, with an excellent reputation for quality and value for money. If you travel with Norfolkline, you can get simple ferry crossing tickets (single or returns), combination tickets for various ports (ideal for driving holidays), mini-cruises, or even package holidays, where your accommodation is waiting for you at the other side.