The Dover to Dunkerque line was opened in March 2000. Norfolkline chartered two brand new chartered vessels especially for this route, called the Midnight Merchant and the Northern Merchant. These boats offered six crossings each day. They have both stern and bow (front and back) access for drive through to offer faster turnaround times.
In 2002, the Dawn Merchant was introduced to the fleet. That ship was built in 1998 and moved up the crossings available to ten a day. The Midnight, Northern and Dawn Merchants are all 22000 tonnes and are identical sister ships. They make the Norfolkline fleet the most modern on all of the channel crossing routes.
Something that sets Norfolkline apart from many of the companies that offer ferry services is that they concentrate only on the needs of motorists and the passengers of the motorists. The ferries only accommodate cars, motorhomes, caravans, trailers and motorbikes. They do not carry coach groups or foot passengers. Norfolkline say that this stops their passengers having to stand in long queues at restaurants or the bar and keeps the gangways from being crowded
In February and July 2000, Guangzhou International built two more roll on-roll off vessels called the Maersk Anglia and the Maersk Flanders. This allowed Norfolkline's ferry capacity by to grow by 30%.
A weekly container service was launched in October 2000 between Rotterdam and the port of Drogheda in Ireland, which is 45km to the north of Dublin. This was done whilst working in cooperation with Geest Ireland Ltd.
It was the strong demand for cargo space between Ireland and Europe that led to the new cargo services being established. During 2000, Norfolkline took control of one of the largest private Swedish transport companies, Euroroute. Euroroute operated 800 trailers and also employs over 100 people. It has offices in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. Its head office is in Gothenburg.
Once you have made your crossing to both Dunkerque and back to Dover you'll find that it is very easy to get around your destinations due to the direct links to the major motorway networks. One of the reasons that Dunkerque is such a popular gateway into France is that it is not very congested and offers rapid access into Belgium and Holland as well as shorter journeys towards Germany, Switzerland and the mainland of Europe than from Calais.
On the boats, you can take advantage of the spacious lounge, the restaurants, the very comfortable sleeper seats, the bar with satellite TV as well as a video lounge, a shop and a bureau de change.