BLACKS HARBOUR (CNB) – The Grand Manan Adventure is now on her maiden voyage.

The new 82-car ferry departed Blacks Harbour at 11 a.m., leaving behind an enthusiastic crowd. It is now sailing to North Head, Grand Manan.

Premier David Alward participated in a ceremony in Blacks Harbour and joined passengers on its first sailing.

"The arrival of the Grand Manan Adventure is a historic day for the people of this region and a great achievement for the community and businesses of Grand Manan," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams.

For her maiden voyage, 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. Residents of Grand Manan will be in North Head at 12:30 p.m. to welcome the vessel. Tours will be provided by Coastal Transport Ltd.

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

"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 Williams. "With the maiden voyage of the Grand Manan Adventure, our government is following through on our commitment to deliver better vehicle and passenger services to Grand Manan through the Fundy Islands Ferry Services Project."

The provincial government has invested about $68 million – including $14 million in the 2011-12 capital budget – in the construction of the vessel.

"The ferry itself will become a tourist attraction," said 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."