LUXURY seating, a quieter engine and more space for passengers are some of the improvements made to a new £30m ferry – which will start transporting people to the Isle of Wight by the end of this month.
The new Victoria of Wight ferry, part of a £45m project by Wightlink, is having the finishing touches applied ahead of its inaugural voyage.
The vessel, which can fit 178 cars and seat 1,170 people, is the first in a potential new fleet of ferries promoting more luxurious travel to and from the island.
Still using the Wightlink Ferry Terminal in Portsmouth, excitement has grown around the project, with Wightlink CEO Keith Greenfield claiming that the new vessel will encourage more Portsmouth residents to make the journey across to the Isle of Wight.
He said: ‘We hope Portsmouth residents will travel more frequently to the Isle of Wight now that we have a faster, more luxurious service.
‘This ship represents faster transport and easier access, with less queuing and less noise at the port – with a much higher capacity, which is great news for customers.
‘It’s important to have efficient transport links and that is what we hope to provide.’
The Victoria of Wight boasts a number of different seating areas across two decks – including a luxury seating area at the bow of the ship, a cafe area, a family zone with a children’s play area and outdoor seating.
It is also the first hybrid-powered ferry in the UK, with the quieter, greener vessel still reaching a top speed of 15 knots.
Mr Greenfield explained: ‘I think the main thing people will notice is the space and level of comfort.
‘We’ve designed the ship with a number of different areas – some are quiet, some are comfortable with lounge chairs, other areas are perfect for pet owners or families – but wherever you sit there will be great views.
‘It’s a very exciting new vessel and we’re looking forward to getting used to using her in the Solent.
‘The sea trials have been really good – things like the top speed have been easily achieved so now we’re beginning to take her out with crews training on board.
‘We’ve taken on about 25 new members of staff and their training has already begun.’
An exact date for Victoria of Wight’s maiden voyage has not yet been confirmed.