A MULTIMILLION-POUND ferry that will run between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight has been officially named at a ceremony today.
The ship, the newest addition to ferry firm Wightlink's fleet, was christened by Her Royal Highness, Sophie the Countess of Wessex in Fishbourne.
A large crowd of dignitaries and business partners gathered for the ceremonial bottle smash against the £30m ship's hull.
The hybrid vessel, which has been given a soft roll-out for operations, aims to provide a greener and more luxurious travel experience.
The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth, gave a blessing to the ship in front of more than 200 dignitaries invited for the day.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller, says that the ferry will be of huge benefit to Portsmouth.
He said: 'A lot of people are very excited about this new vessel.
'Where it's more environmentally-friendly it is a big addition to what Portsmouth has to offer – it's great for the city and it looks marvellous.
'I have really been looking forward to taking a look inside.'
Councillor Robert Wood believes that Wightlink has shown a clear commitment to a future in Portsmouth.
He said: 'I think this new ferry is very important for our transport links and ensuring Wightlink continues to be successful.
'It's also good to see them addressing concerns and issues raised by local residents – they are making it clear that they are here to stay and are a firm for the future, which is great to see.'
The Victoria of Wight will be able to carry 178 cars and 1,170 passengers, becoming the flagship vessel for the company.
Wightlink's chief executive, Keith Greenfield, has spoken of his pride in the vessel, which is the final piece of the firm' s £45m investment scheme into the ferry link between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
He said: 'We were all very excited to have Her Royal Highness naming the ship.
'It felt a bit like a wedding, it's a very special day – not only for us but for all of our business partners and the agencies that have helped us to make this possible.
‘There are a lot of differences with our new flagship vessel – car drivers will immediately notice how easy it is to drive onto the ferry, and passengers have already told us that the cabin itself feels like a cruise liner.
'The ship will be in full service from Portsmouth to Fishbourne very soon.'