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Red Funnel Ferries operate year round ferry services between Southampton, UK and the Isle of Wight.

The Passenger Vehicle Ferry service carries cars, coaches, freight & passengers between Southampton & East Cowes. The Red Jet Hi-Speed passenger-only service connects Southampton and West Cowes, in just 22 minutes.

Red Funnel Ferries
    • Southampton to East Cowes
    • East Cowes to Southampton
    • Passenger and Vehicle Ferry
    • Red Jet Hi-Speed Passenger Ferry
    • Over 50 Ferry Crossings Every Day

Click Here for ferry routes not listed above

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About Red Funnel Ferries

For over 140 years Red Funnel Ferries have sailed between Southampton, the gateway to the Isle of Wight and Cowes, the undisputed home of world yachting. If taking a vehicle, you can relax for 55 minutes, soak up the sun and breathe the sea air as you cruise between Southampton and East Cowes on Red Funnel Ferries passenger vehicle ferry service.

With services around the clock, 364 days a year, Red Funnel Ferries offer a range of competitive fares for commuters, day trip, weekend break and longer stay visitors.

Red Funnel Ferry Lines

Red Funnel has the newest cross-Solent fleet and operates the largest vehicle ferries ever to serve the Isle of Wight. We sail around the clock, 364 days a year between Southampton, the gateway to the Island, and East and West Cowes, the home of world yacht racing.

Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, our unmatched reputation for service and reliability makes Red Funnel the smartest choice for cross-Solent travel.

Red Funnel Ferries

Red Funnel is the 'Original Isle of Wight ferry operator' and now carries in excess of 3.0m passengers and 0.6m vehicles per annum on routes between Southampton (UK mainland) and East and West Cowes (Isle of Wight). The fleet consists of modern purpose built Ro-Ro vehicle ferries and Red Jet Hi-Speed passenger catamarans. Catering and retail services are provided in-house.

Red Funnel Holidays

Offer a wide range of ferry inclusive holidays and short breaks on the Isle of Wight and in Southern England to suit all tastes and budgets. A full colour brochure is produced annually and all holidays, short breaks and activity packages can be booked by phone, online or through selected Travel Agents.

Red Funnel Distribution

With distribution depots in Newport (Isle of Wight) and the Port of Southampton, Red Funnel Distribution (trading arm of wholly owned Vectis Transport Ltd) specialises in parcel and groupage shipments, full or part load deliveries throughout the UK and contract distribution services for a number of FTSE Top 100 companies.

History of Red Funnel Ferries

The Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Public Limited Company was formed in 1861. The Company is the original operator to the Isle of Wight and has a distinguished and colourful history spanning over 140 years. The Company's famous house flag was derived from the names of four steamers that were in the newly merged fleet in 1861- Sapphire, Emerald, Ruby and Pearl.

The story began in the 1820's, when scheduled year-round Packet Services started operating between Southampton, Cowes, Ryde, Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour. Excursion Services were also a mainstay activity during those balmy Victorian and Edwardian summers with daily trips along the South Coast and across the channel to France. In the 1900's, the growing interest in travel provided the Company with an important string to its bow - the provision of tendering services to the great passenger liners.

Many would anchor in Cowes Roads and use Red Funnel's steamers for alighting passengers and transferring all kinds of cargo. In 1885 the Company expanded into Tug Ownership and continued to consolidate its market position throughout the wars. After World War II, recession and changing holiday habits led to the decline of the excursion business and preoccupation with the Southampton-Cowes packet services, particularly in light of growing car ownership and the transfer of cargo onto wheels. Diesel propulsion marked a turning point in the Company's history with the first purpose-built diesel vehicle ferries joining the fleet in the 1950's.

Drawing from the Company's archives, this microsite offers a nostalgic insight into cross-Solent travel since the 1820's. It's rare for a firm to have survived for so long, and the Company is rightly proud of its illustrious history and grateful to those who've played a part.

Safety On Board Red Funnel Ferries

The International Safety Code (ISM) was introduced to improve the management of safety and the quality of ship management across the globe. The need was highlighted after a series of incidents and catastrophes in the 1980's, which implied a failure of safety processes both at sea and ashore.

A close scrutiny of shipboard operations, policies and procedures took place under the direction of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, leading to the International Safety Management Code directive. Without a certificated Safety Management System, vessel operators would not be permitted to sail in International waters.

Red Funnel was accredited by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) for its Safety Management System in 1997, demonstrating that safety is at the heart of its culture and an integral part of its management philosophy. The Company is proud of its record and has won a number of safety related awards. Independent verification demonstrates to passengers, employees and external authorities, that safety and the proactive management of safety, is our foremost priority.

Isle of White Activities and Events


Where better to get afloat than Cowes, the home of UK yachting. Working with professional partners, Red Funnel offer a range of inclusive packages that are tailored to individual needs from complete novices wanting a fun day on the water through to those seeking an RYA or BCU qualification.

Packages are flexible, ranging from a day, weekend or 5 days and include ferry crossings, transfers, boat charter/course fees and hotel accommodation as required. Taught courses are ideal for individuals whilst all fun days are available for groups of two people or more, subject to availability.

"Cowes is a great place to learn to sail either in the protected waters of the River Medina or the open seas of the Solent. Learning to sail is fun and gives everyone a great sense of achievement having faced the challenges of being out on the water. Red Funnel are offering some great learn to sail packages - they can make all the necessary travel and accommodation arrangements making it easy for you to book the whole package in one easy step." ( Ellen MacArthur Skipper, Team Kingfisher supported by Red Funnel).


The Isle of Wight is an all season walkers paradise with over 500 miles of well maintained footpaths winding through fields and forests. Some 64 miles follow the spectacular coastline, nearly half of which is classed as 'Heritage Coast' and more than fifty percent is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Island is also home to the UK's largest annual Walking Festival. There are nearly 100 organised walks to choose from, so whether you're interested in the Island's history, nature or the coastline there's a walk for you.


Explore the beautiful countryside the Island has to offer on horseback. With its many bridal paths and quiet lanes, the Isle of Wight is perfect for both pony trekking and hacking.


A milder than average UK climate means that the Isle of Wight is ideally placed as the South’s premier, short break, golfing destination. Boasting more golf courses than there are days in the week, all abilities are catered for from the low handicap, weekend golfer to the occasional rusty swinger. You can enjoy exhilarating downland courses with breathtaking views and fresh sea air, a round on a peaceful parkland course or just whack some balls at the floodlit driving range.

Getting to the Isle of Wight is simplicity itself and choosing where to stay could not be easier. Red Funnel Holidays has special inclusive golfing breaks. Rates include ferry transfers from Southampton, course fees (at selected clubs) and accommodation from our comprehensive holidays website – with over 80 establishments across the Island – there’s something for everyone. For more information and package ideas click here.

For holidaymakers who just fancy a quick round of golf with the minimum effort, the Farringford Hotel at Freshwater Bay and the Priory Bay Hotel at St Helens have their own 9 hole courses set in fantastic country estates.

Kitesurfing and Windsurfing

Kitesurfing is one of the newest extreme sports - it is like snowboarding on water, except you are pulled along by a large kite. With its many beaches, the Isle of Wight is the ideal venue for the sport both for beginners and experienced kitesurfers alike.

The island offers some fantastic venues, for example Appley Beach and Sandown for one of the most thrilling sports around. Once you’ve mastered the basics, there’s a whole new world of short board sailing, cruising or fun racing to enjoy.


The Isle of Wight's diverse terrain provides exceptional off road cycling, from singletrack paths to downhills trails. The West of the Island is particularly good for mountain biking, with its undulating countryside and stunning scenery. The area is also host to several events, including the annual 'Seven Hills Killer'!

Road cycling and touring is excellent on the Island with over 200 miles of routes to suit everyone. There are quiet country lanes that meander through areas of outstanding natural beauty and some excellent coastal paths. One of the newest purpose built rides is Route 23, a part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network, which runs from West Cowes through to Sandown on the South Easterley edge of the Island.

Travel with your bike is simple. Red Funnel offer a frequent ferry service to East Cowes, bicycles travel FREE. If your heading to West Cowes, there is a free frequent chain ferry available from East Cowes, located near the Red Funnel terminal.

Or take the Hi-Speed passenger only service to West Cowes and bike hire is available just a few minutes walk from the Terminal - plus with a valid Red Funnel ticket you can get a 10% discount on hire.


The Island is famous for an intense flying experience, escaping the worst effects of low pressure means there are more flying days. There are 12 flying sites on the Island, which cater for all wind directions.

Gardens and Vinyards

The Isle of Wight is known as the ‘Garden Isle’. With its temperate climate, its perfect for growing a wide variety of colourful and exotic flora. You can explore rambling cottage gardens, public parks and stately homes with gardens by Walsh.

Due to the mild climate, the Island has a number of lush vineyards producing wine, cider, liqueurs, jams and juices, many of which can be found at local hotels and restaurants.

Isle of Wight Events Highlights

Just 23 minutes from Southampton and UK mainland, this diamond shaped Island measures only 23 miles wide and 13 miles long yrt offers so much to both holiday makers and day visitors.


Isle of Wight Walking Festival

The 8th annual Isle of Wight Walking Festival promises 16 days of spectacular walks, and celebrates its reputation as the UK's largest Walking Festival.

Step out and discover the island in the 2006 Isle of Wight Walking festival. As one of the UK's best destinations for walking pursuits, there are walks for all interests - families, fun, fitness, seasoned ramblers and leisurely walkers.

Why not lace up your boots, catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight & join the UK's largest walking festival. This year promises around 160 guided walks, from short strolls to longer hikes such as the 'Walk the Wight' for seasoned ramblers. Each walk has its own theme -pub trails to dinosaurs, ghosts walks to lantern processions, local wildlife trails to spectacular coastal hikes.

With an area of 147 square miles of well maintained, signposted footpaths around dramatic coastlines and unspoilt countryside, it's not surprising that the Island has long been a source of inspiration to all of its visitors. With over 500 miles of bridleways and footpaths, walking is one of the best ways of experiencing an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Travelling to the event is easy from Southampton with Red Funnel. Vehicle ferries run every hour to East Cowes and the Hi-Speed service departs every 30 minutes for West Cowes. Our Southampton terminals are within easy reach of the M3 and M27. Click 'Book' below to purchase Hi-Speed tickets online.

The official Walking festival Programme will be available in March 2006 with full listings of the fantastic festival walks. To reserve a copy call 01983 913818.

  • 12-05-2006 - RIBEX BOAT SHOW 2006

Ribex Boat Show

Fri 12 May - Sun 14 May 2006
Cowes Yacht Haven will host the world's only international boat show dedicated to RIBs (Rigid Hull Inflatables) and inflatables.

Displays, exhibits and sea trials for all to enjoy.

Rib Exhibitions Events manager Steve Harvey comments: “Ribex 2005 is unique in that it encourages people to arrive to the event by sea, or Red Funnel Ferries offers high-speed travel between the mainland and the Island. In Cowes, the ferry docks slap bang in front of the show entry gates, making the whole process both efficient and stress free."

Red Funnel's Hi-Speed service operates every 30 minutes between Southampton Terminal 2 & West Cowes and discounted travel & show admission tickets can be if purchased in advance of the show

  • 03-06-2006 - ROUND THE ISLAND RACE

Ilse of White Yacht Race

Sat 03 June 2006 - Cowes/Solent

The annual gallop round the Isle of Wight is the largest, and most spectacular yacht race of its kind in the world! It attracts some 1800 entries from professional crews, corporate teams and amateurs. Steeds range from maxi-yachts to the smallest offshore categories, sportsboats to sedate old-timers, with Admirals Cuppers competing alongside families having fun.

First sailed in 1931, the race still competes for the Gold Roman Bowl, the legendary trophy presented by the race's founder Cyril Windeler. Little did he realise what he was starting!

Red Funnel (in conjuction with BT openworld, Haven Knox-Johnson, International Coatings, Lombard, MDL, Mumm & Co, Ocean World, Pindar & Raymarine) is delighted to add its support to an event that is extremely popular and viewed with much affection by the sailing community. This is the race that everybody wants to enter so visit the website below, email or tel. 01983 296911 for details on how to take part.

To watch the the race from the Island, Red Funnel's Hi-Speed service operates every 30 minutes between Southampton Terminal 2 & West Cowes and this year there will be a special 0520 hrs departure from Southampton on race day (arrives 0542 in Cowes).


Isle of White Rock Festival

Fri 9 - Sun 11 June 2006 - Seaclose Park, Newport.

The only UK festival that can rightfully claim to have had Jimi Hendrix and the Doors on its bill, returns. The 2006 festival will be bigger, better and and is being billed as THE music festival not be missed!

With The Prodigy, Placebo and Goldfrapp already announced for Friday 9th and more set to be announced soon this years festival is set to be a HUGE hit with festival goers, especially with Glastonbury having the year off!

David Bowie has this to say about the Isle of Wight Festival: "I was so envious of other acts that got to do the other Isle of Wight Festivals - it is really coming back. This is the very first time I have been to the Isle of Wight Festival. Obviously I've been to the Isle of Wight, it's a fabulous place - I used to go there on holiday when I was a kid. I jumped at it, it is a smashing thing to do."

Travelling to the event is easy with Red Funnel. Passenger Vehicle ferries run every hour from Terminal 1 in Southampton to East Cowes, which is within easy reach of the festival site (shuttle buses will operate for foot passengers).

Tickets are now on sale, simply click here and follow the on screen instructions.

  • 29-07-2006 - SKANDIA COWES WEEK
    Cowes Week Sailing
    Sat 29 July to 5 August 2006

With around 1,000 boats taking part, Skandia Cowes Week is the longest-running, largest and most prestigious annual sailing Regatta in the World.

The 'Must Do' Event on the International Sailing Calendar. The 2006 Regatta marks the 11th Anniversary of Skandia's title sponsorship of the most famous sailing regatta in the World, Cowes Week. This year also celebrates the 41th Anniversary of the Event's organising body, Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC).

Skandia Cowes Week first took place in 1826 and has been held in August every year since then (the only exception being during the two World Wars). This famous Regatta has been part of the British Summer social calendar for many years and is traditionally held after Goodwood and before the start of the grouse-shooting season.

Cowes Combined Clubs was formed in 1964 to co-ordinate the racing previously organised by the individual Cowes and mainland yacht clubs. Over the years the Regatta has been visited by royalty and other world-famous personalities as well as naval warships, superyachts and square-riggers.

8,000 sailors race over eight days in the Central, Eastern and Western Solent. Up to 1,000 boats compete, ranging from high-tech racing machines to classic day boats. 35 different classes are represented.

Thousands of spectators flock to Cowes to enjoy 'The Week'. Watch the on-water action from the Green and from Cowes Parade - it is estimated that there are 200,000 sailing and non-sailing visitors during the Week.

The Fireworks display includes over 10,000 fireworks plus effects and music. Up to 170,000 people watch in Cowes and from the mainland - it's big, it's spectacular and it's noisy!

Onshore fun - Let's party!
Many thousands of non-sailing visitors come to Cowes each August to enjoy the unique atmosphere that is Skandia Cowes Week. If you want to know what's happening out on the water, you can keep in touch by listening to the brilliant live commentary from Cowes Radio.

There's a fabulous festival atmosphere with street entertainers and music, and don't forget the spectacular Fireworks display.

The town of Cowes provides excellent facilities for the sailor and non-sailor alike, with plenty of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from. The expanded Cowes Yacht Haven which is the focal point of activity during the Week, East Cowes Marina and Shepards Wharf also provide entertainment, food and bars as well as berthing (but book early as competition for berths is fierce).

The Yacht Haven's huge marquee and beer tent erected for Skandia Cowes Week and other major events, makes it a central meeting place for competitors and visitors alike. With fabulous food stands, supplier stands and the huge sound stage, which attracts many well-known groups, the Yacht Haven is certainly one of the places to be. Visitors can also enjoy the alternative Parade Village which was also a rip-roaring success in 2003.

So, if you're not planning to sail there is still plenty to do day and night, and the High Street is a good place to start. It offers a wide choice of chandleries, art galleries, antiques, clothing/leisurewear and gift shops and plenty more.

You can enjoy street theatre every afternoon on the Parade and in the High Street, or watch the starts and finishes on the Royal Yacht Squadron line from the Parade. Just to the West, The Green offers a panoramic viewing platform of the yachts cheating the tide as they battle their way to the finish and it's also an excellent spot from which to watch the Friday night firework display.

There's a lively week-long social programme ranging from the renowned Yacht Club Balls and Cocktail Parties to an excellent line-up of live bands performing in Cowes Yacht Haven; there's also a superb choice of cuisine available to suit every palate. The atmosphere on shore is carnival-like with plenty of open-air activities and street entertainment.

Skandia Cowes Week really is special to everyone involved, whether sailing or not. Visitors to Cowes can enjoy a unique opportunity to see the yachts afloat on the Solent waters and the people of Cowes and its businesses really get behind the Event and pull out all the stops to support this famous Regatta.

Travelling to the regatta is easy from Southampton with Red Funnel. Vehicle ferries run every hour to East Cowes and the Hi-Speed service departs every 20 minutes at peak times for West Cowes. Our Southampton terminals are within easy reach of the M3 and M27.

  • 09-09-2006 - BESTIVAL

Bestival at Isle of Wight

Fri 8 to Sun 10 September - Robin Hill Country Park, Newport, Isle of Wight

Bestival is a niche dance festival from Sunday Best and a weekend way of life for Radio 1 presenter Rob da Bank. This three day music and arts event is the last festival of the summer and is held at one of the country’s most magical parkland sites, Robin Hill set in the heart of the Isle of Wight.

The event will host a unique blend of great music and a celebration of fine food, good fun and the English countryside. Bestival will boast a musical mix of bands and DJs from the Sixties to the 21st century. That said, you’re as likely to catch an impromptu Morris dancing display or a brass band trooping across the field as you are the hottest new band or DJ from around the world!

Travelling to Bestival is easy with Red Funnel. Vehicle ferries run every hour from Terminal 1 in Southampton, which is within easy reach of the M3 and M27.

For discounted admission click here - tickets are now on sale.


Isle of Wight cycling Festival

Sat 16 to Sun 24 September 2006 - Island Wide

Cycling events for all:- Road racing time trials, British National Ladies races and mountain biking including the challenging Seven and Fourteen Hills Killer trails. Alternatively, you could settle for something more scenic and relaxing! Whatever your taste, dig out your lycra shorts, pump up your tyres and head for the Island! Costs vary. Contact Wight Leisure for programme details, 01983 823829 or visit the website below.

Travelling to the event is easy with Red Funnel. Vehicle ferries run every hour from Terminal 1 in Southampton, which is within easy reach of the M3 and M27. To book vehicle ferry travel online click 'Book' below. Cycles travel FREE.

Red Funnel will also be offering an exclusive ferry package including event admission nearer the time.


Isle of Wight Extreme Sports

Thur 26 to Sun 29 October 2006 from 10am - Yaverland, Sandown (& various venues islandwide).

Don't miss Europe's largest Extreme Sports festival, where the elite compete in eleven awesome watersport and landsport championships. Prepare to be amazed by the intense action and the sheer radical style of some 500 Kiteboarders, Windsurfers, Surfers, Gravity Bikes, Street Luge, Skate Vert+Street, BMX, Mountain Boards and more! Back ashore, enjoy the biggest parties of the season with entertainment every day and every night and make time to visit some of the UK's premier trade and demo displays.

Red Funnel will be offering significant travel reductions to both White Air competitors and spectators. Pricing will be announced in the summer. Click on the 'Specials' link below for the latest details.

Travelling to the festival is easy with Red Funnel. Vehicle ferries run every hour from Terminal 1 in Southampton, which is within easy reach of the M3 and M27.

Isle White Trivia

  • The Union Jack painted on the hanger doors at GKN Westland's factory in East Cowes is the largest in the world. The world's largest hovercraft was built on the Island in the late 1960's. The Princess Margaret inaugurated cross-Channel hovercraft services from Dover as the world's first car-carrying hovercraft on 1 August 1968.

  • Members of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes are the only yacht-club members in the World who are entitled to fly the "White Ensign" from their vessels.

  • Until about 7000 years ago there was still a narrow land bridge which stretched from the Needles Rocks to the coast of Dorset. 120 million years earlier dinosaurs ruled and fossil hunters continue to unearth some unique finds.

  • It has been said that if the UK population were brought together they would all fit on the Isle of Wight - but only just!

  • The Island is a haven for walkers, boasting more than 500 miles of bridleways and footpaths. The highestpoint is St Boniface Down at 787 ft (240 metres).

  • Several well known authors and poets have lived or stayed here. Tennyson had a home at Farringford House in Freshwater, Keats, Swinburne, Longfellow, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll have all found it an inspiring place to write.

  • Enid Blyton, the famous children's author, holidayed on the Island at Seaview many times and it is felt that some of the ideas for her stories were formulated whilst staying on the Island.

  • Kings and Queens have visited and lived here. King Charles I was held captive at Carisbrooke Castle before his execution, and Queen Victoria’s favourite country home was Osborne House, near East Cowes. Royalty and celebraties have been regular visitors to Cowes Week for the annual regatta since the royal yacht Britannia raced in the 1930's.

  • In the Flower Power era of the late 60's, the Island became world famous for its pop festivals which attracted hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world.

  • Multi-Oscar winner, Anthony Minghella was born on the Island and his family still lives there.

Booking your Red Funnel Ferries ferry tickets to the Isle of White from Southampton is quick, safe and secure with

To obtain a ticket price and book online please use the booking engine at the top of this page to secure the lowest available ferry tickets to the Isle of White on Red Funnel Ferries.