The ferry industry is gearing up for growth with more than £1billion of investments announced for new ships, port and service facilities in the next four years, according to figures released by Discover Ferries, the industry body for ferries.

New additions for this year include Irish Ferries' £128million cruise ferry W.B. Yeats, which is expected to weigh in at 55,000 tonnes. W.B. Yeats will sail between Holyhead and Dublin from mid-September, delivering additional capacity for 1,885 passengers and crew and 1,200 cars per crossing, onto the busiest ferry route between the UK and Ireland.

Red Funnel Isle of Wight Ferries is investing £7million in a new high speed catamaran Red Jet 7 which is being built at the Wight Shipyard Company on the Isle of Wight. The 277-passenger Red Jet 7 will come into service between Southampton and West Cowes in early July and is a sister ship to Red Jet 6. The company is also investing more than £3million in the major interior refurbishment of its ro-pax ship Red Eagle to give her a contemporary new look in time for Easter. The refit includes the addition of the company's flagship Signature Lounge which offers travellers a host of benefits.

New for this summer is Wightlink’s Victoria of Wight – a new hybrid car ferry operating between Portsmouth and Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. The new ship will have the capacity to carry the equivalent of 178 cars and more than 1,000 people on each crossing. Powered by hybrid energy, the new ferry has a host of features to minimise the ship’s impact on the Solent and its shoreline including a sophisticated power management system, recycling engine heat to warm water and indoor spaces, and a modern hull designed to create low levels of wash. New double deck loading ramps have also been built at the company's ports at Portsmouth and Fishbourne as part of the £45million investment, for faster loading and unloading times.

Later in the year, Caledonian MacBrayne ferry customers will benefit from the UK’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) passenger ferry, MV Glen Sannox. The innovative dual fuel vessel is the first of two LNG ferries being built as part of a £97million contract on behalf of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL). The 102-metre, roll-on/roll-off ferry, is designed to carry 127 cars or 16 HGVs or a combination of both and up to 1,000 passengers and is due to be delivered in winter 2018/19.

Meanwhile, in March 2019 work will begin on Brittany Ferries’ new £175million state-of-the-art new ship named the Honfleur, on the popular Portsmouth-Caen route. The ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which emits less carbon dioxide than diesel following combustion and burns with no smoke. Free Wi-Fi will come as standard in all cabins and public spaces, and a digital information lounge will serve as her focal point. Quiet lounges, panoramic views and reading areas will complement cabins designed to sooth and reflect the unique ambience of a short voyage by sea.

Stena Line's ambitious development plan involves the construction of four new RoPax vessels which are being built at the AVIC Shipyard in China. The four new 1,000 passenger ships will be delivered during 2019 and 2020 with Stena having an option on a further four vessels as part of the overall contract. The vessels will be 50% larger than today’s standard RoPax vessels and will be amongst the most energy efficient in the world with significantly lower emissions compared to similar tonnage.

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