The new ferry for Grand Manan set sail on its maiden voyage Thursday morning.

The Grand Manan Adventure left Blacks Harbour, N.B., at about 11 a.m. bound for North Head. The general manager of Coastal Transport said the vessel dwarfs the old Grand Manan V.

Murray Ryder said the new vessel can fit 82 cars, which is 20 more than the previous ferry.

"The exciting part about it from my point of view is that … in the past we've been able to carry about five tractor trailers. We'll be able to carry a minimum of ten on this ship and that's really been the challenge on this service before."

The old ferry is set for retirement from regular service, but will be kept around as an emergency replacement.

'Cruise-like' experience offered on new ship

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Premier David Alward checks out the new Grand Manan Adventure Thursday. (CBC)

Ryder said the Grand Manan Adventure offers a "cruise-like" trip.

"It has a play area for the children, the arcades will be up and running, a number of lounges including tilt-back chairs and a number of quiet corners so people can get away on their own," he said.

The Grand Manan Adventure has about 200 invited guests on board, including members of the community and those involved in the construction of the ferry.

At 3 p.m., the ferry will make its first regular run with paying passengers to Blacks Harbour from North Head. 

The provincial government has invested about $68 million in the construction of the vessel.

"There was a significant need to replace the Grand Manan V with a larger vessel capable of meeting the present and long-term transportation needs of Grand Manan," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams.

"The increase in the daily vehicle capacity in the summer season will also strengthen the tourism industry, which also plays a major role in the island's economy."