POOLE’S new fast ferry has begun her long journey from the Philippines to the south coast of England.

The latest addition to the Condor Ferries fleet, the Condor 102, has left Austal’s shipyard in Balamban, Cebu, for Southampton where final preparations will be made before she enters service at the end of March.

It will take around four weeks to sail the 10,500 nautical miles to the UK, crewed by Condor staff, after four months of being fitted out in the Philippines.

During the voyage the 102-metre ferry will sail across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean before travelling up the Bay of Biscay and into the English Channel.

Once she arrives in Southampton, interior refurbishment specialists Trimline will complete the internal fit out and she will undertake further trials before she begins sailing between Poole and the Channel Isles in the spring.

“I’m delighted that we are now entering the final stages of the new ferry’s preparations before she is able to come into service on the UK to Channel Islands route,” said Capt Fran Collins, executive director operations, at Condor Ferries. I know that many people will be excited to see the 102 in British waters and we are all looking forward to the day in March when we will be able to travel on her for the first time.

“Our teams have worked tirelessly both to prepare the ship for service and her journey back, and so our thanks go to everyone who has played a part in the project so far.

“Our crew now have several weeks at sea bringing her home, and we all wish them bon voyage.”

Even before she set sail Condor had seen unprecedented levels of interest from passengers wanting to travel on the new ship.

There have been record sales and November 28 was the company’s busiest ever booking day with more than 100 passenger bookings taken every hour.