P&O Ferries’ second new €180 million ship, Spirit of France, set sail on her maiden voyage to Calais on Thursday 9 February.
With capacity for up to 2,000 passengers, and three separate vehicle decks capable of carrying nearly four kilometres of traffic parked end to end, this giant ship joins her identical twin sister the Spirit of Britain in revolutionising travel on the Dover Strait.
The impressive design of these two ships, with a unique hull form that reduces drag in shallow Channel waters and enhances fuel economy, means the new vessels, each capable of carrying 160 articulated lorries plus a further 195 cars, can ship twice the payload of previous generation Channel ferries for the same running costs.
Huge floor to ceiling picture windows with stained glass enhance the luxurious ambience on board and no expense has been spared in ensuring the quality of all the fixtures and fittings in the bars, restaurants and superb lounges.
Freight drivers, whose lorries will fill the ship’s lower two vehicles decks, get the five star treatment in the Routemaster’s Lounge with their own private showers, restaurant, relaxation area with recliners and a seat back entertainment system plus their own outside deck area.
Motorists access the ship via their own private car deck which has special lanes for those selecting priority loading. There are also reserved spaces for customers wishing to park on the ship in order to shop on board in the extensive airport-style retail outlet during a return Channel cruise. For those wanting a bit more luxury and style, the ship’s exclusive Club Lounge has a private outside deck equipped with cruise-style furniture.
There is a choice of dining on board in either The Brasserie waiter service restaurant, with its wide range of traditional British signature dishes, or the self-service International Food Court which offers a massive choice of food to go and a wide range of cooked meals, salads and desserts catering for British, Continental and Oriental tastes.
The youngest passengers get an entertainments area in the Horizon Family Lounge equipped with tables and chairs for toddlers and small children while teenagers get their own sound-proofed video arcade.
Spirit of France and her sister ship are the first passenger ferries in the world to be designed to new Safe Return to Port requirements being introduced by the International Maritime Organisation, ensuring the highest compliance with propulsion, steering and machinery redundancy.
The two ships form part of the leading ferry operation on the shortest Channel crossing between Dover and Calais. In total, P&O Ferries operates six ships on the route offering up to 30 sailings in each direction every 24 hours.
Standard return ticket prices start at £60 return for a car and up to nine passengers travelling throughout 2012.
Chris Laming, Brian Rees, Natalie Hardy, Michelle Ulyatt
Tel: +44(0)1304 863833 (24 hours)