The largest ferry to sail across the Channel is due to embark on its maiden voyage.

P&O Ferries’ £152 million new ship Spirit of Britain will set sail from Dover to Calais today with a capacity to hold up to 2,000 passengers.

The 49,000-tonne vessel’s revolutionary design features a unique hull form which reduces drag in shallow Channel waters and boosts fuel economy.

It has three separate vehicle decks capable of carrying nearly two-and-a-half miles of traffic parked end to end. Spirit of Britain will be officially named by Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes in March.

The ferry will be joined on the short sea crossing between the UK and France by sister ship Spirit of France in September. The combined cost of €360 million for the two ships represents the largest investment ever made by P&O Ferries, according to the company.