THE new multimillion pound Gosport ferry was launched on the waters of the Solent yesterday.
The £3.2m boat, which was built in Croatia, arrived at Portsmouth International Port on a cargo ship which was welcomed by staff.
However, passengers have been warned that it will be paid for through higher ticket prices in the future.
The 300-capacity vessel is similar in design to the 2005-launched ferry Spirit of Portsmouth and is named Harbour Spirit.
Gosport Ferry managing director John Foster said: ‘The boat will provide passengers with more seating space and allow more space for our customers who come on board with bikes and motorbikes.’
She will be crewed by three staff with space for 297 passengers when she carries commuters from Portsmouth Harbour to Gosport.
‘We hope that she will improve commuters’ journeys to work as well as those that are going to Portsmouth for Gunwharf,’ said Mr Foster.
The boat is due to eventually replace the two oldest craft in the firm’s fleet – the 1966-built Gosport Queen and Portsmouth Queen.
According to the company the new boat is heavier than previous ferries which means that rough crossings will be more bearable.
The cost of the new boat will need to be made back through ticket price rises in the future.
‘We understand that times are still difficult for people but we will try to keep fare increases to a minimum,’ said Mr Foster
Council leader Mark Hook has praised the business for spending money on its fleet.
He said: ‘The new ferry will help the company continue with the excellent service.’
It is hoped that there will be an improved service with the new boat.
‘As this boat is replacing the older ferries the crossing should be of better quality and more reliable,’ said Cllr Hook.
The firm is also refurbishing the Portsea pontoon.