Sadly SeaFrance is now no longer operating. The company was put into liquidation in January 2012. SeaFrance was one of 2 operators running the Dover to Calais routes (the other being P&O, which is still going strong). DFDS / Norfolkline has since started to run ferry crossings from Dover to Calais, thus taking over where SeaFrance left off. So luckily for ferry travelers, there are still 2 ferry operators to choose from when traveling from Dover to Calais. For more information, see our page on ferries to France here.
Background and History
Although SeaFrance is no longer operating, we thought we would leave the following information on our site, in case anyone was interested in the background and history of the company.
The ferry company SeaFrance started their services in the mid-nineties. The Dover to Calais crossing had previously been owned by Stena Sealink Line, but the services stopped in 1995. In 1996, Seafrance took over the route and the vessels that had been owned by Sealink. The ships were refurbished with more of a French theme to appeal to passengers. They also took over the freight-only service, but decided to market this to passengers too, as a quiet vessel. SeaFrance later bought three more ships for the route, and the company are now the second largest operators for the popular Dover to Calais crossing.
One of SeaFrance’s ships, the Monet, was damaged during a routine service in Calais, so the company bought the SeaFrance Manet (a former Stana Line vessel that had operated on the Newhaven to Dieppe route) to replace the broken ship in 1997. In 2001, SeaFrance also acquired the Seafrance Rodin, which became the fastest ferry on the Dover to Calais crossing. A third ship was added to the route in 2005, the SeaFrance Berlioz.
SeaFrance competed to buy out the company Transmanche Ferries, who operated routes between Newhaven and Dieppe from 2001 to 2006. The French government were keen to keep the service running, but SeaFrance lost their bid, and the company was awarded to LD Lines.
Although they were a popular ferry service provider, SeaFrance have been losing money in recent years. Twenty-million Euros were lost in 2008, and since then they have lost around three-million Euros every month. This may be to do with the increase in popularity of low-cost airlines. Because of the losses the company was making, 2009 saw them publicise a plan to restructure the business. This meant that over five-hundred employees in France would lose their jobs and three ships would be taken off the planned routes. Two other ferry companies, Brittany Ferries and LD Lines, made takeover bids for SeaFrance.
Passenger ships included: the SeaFrance Moliere, which was built in 1992 and was a freight-only service to begin with until 1998 when it became a passenger vessel; the SeaFrance Berlioz, which was built in 2005 in France; and the SeaFrance Rodin, which was built in Finland in 2001. The freight service runs between Dover and Dunkurque Ouest on the ship SeaFrance Nord Pas-de-Calais, which was built in 1987.
SeaFrance offered cheap ferry tickets between the United Kingdom and the European mainland. Although it’s a relatively short journey, there were good facilities onboard the ships. There were a number of restaurants, as well as bars, meaning you can start your holiday in style. There was of course also an opportunity to do a bit of shopping onboard, mainly duty-free items such as perfumes and alcohol.
The company also offered a package holiday service with most of the hotels on offer are only a short drive away from the port, and include destinations such as Bruges and Boulogne.