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Red Jet leaving Cowes Harbour

Our Routes

Isle of Wight crossing information and local points of interest

Cross The Solent in 60 minutes or less

We’ve proud to operate central routes to the Isle of Wight from Southampton. Our Red Jet Hi-Speed service for foot passengers is fast and efficient – offering customers the quickest route between London and the Isle of Wight by train – and our Vehicle Ferries cross in a leisurely 60 minutes.

Our Ferry Routes

  • No booking required. Just turn up, buy a ticket, and get on board! 
  • Crossing time 28 mins (11.7 miles)
  • Daily departures every 70 mins (35 mins at peak times)
  • Operates year round excluding 25 December
  • Walk-on passengers, personal luggage and bicycles only
  • Connecting bus, taxi & car hire services

This option is ideal for business or leisure trips to Cowes, Gurnard, Northwood, or Newport. Taxis pick up from right outside our West Cowes terminal, and the nearby bus stop has regular connections across the whole Island. Many of the Isle of Wight’s major employers, including Gurit, GKN Aerospace, BAE Systems, Vestas, NHS, HM Prisons, etc are all located within easy reach of the Red Jet service.

Southampton-West Cowes

  • Pre-booking of vehicles is strongly recommended. Book online, by phone, or via your holiday accommodation provider. 
  • Crossing time 60 minutes (11.7 miles) 
  • Departures every 60 minutes March-October
  • Departures every 90 minutes November-February
  • Operates 365 days/year
  • Passengers and all types of vehicles
  • Connecting bus, taxi & car hire services

From East Cowes, enjoy easy access anywhere on Island by road or public transport. Osborne House and the Isle of Wight Festival, held each June, are within a short drive. 
 

Southampton-East Cowes

Points of Interest

On both sides of the Solent, there’s lots to see and do whether you’re crossing for leisure, for work, or simply for a change of scenery. Explore points of interest on the Isle of Wight and in and around Southampton. 

Royal Pier Pavilion

Royal Pier Pavilion

This one’s easy to spot as you arrive at our Southampton ferry terminal, particularly at night when it’s lit up in purple lights! When Red Funnel was first formed, we ran a fleet of paddle steamers that operated excursions to destinations around the Island, and along the south coast. These departed from “Royal Pier”, and the impressive pavilion building is still in use as a restaurant.

Ocean Cruise Terminal

People walking on a ship

This striking landmark on Southampton’s waterfront is where you’ll find some of the world’s largest cruise ships docking. See if you can spot some of the famous Cunard and P&O Cruises vessels as you depart for the Island, and if you’re travelling in the late afternoon/early evening you might even get to sail alongside them as they depart Southampton for their global destinations.

Hythe Pier

Hythe Pier

The Hythe pier is difficult to miss, as at 640 metres in length, it’s the 7th longest in Britain. It is also the home of the world’s oldest working pier train, which links the village of Hythe and its marina to a small ferry that runs a regular service to the City of Southampton.

Netley Chapel

Netley Chapel at Royal Victoria Country Park

This striking chapel, on the eastern side of the river, is all that now remains of one of Britain’s first purpose-built hospitals. Constructed for veterans of the Crimean War, the original 220-acre site was the largest of its time but was demolished after a fire in 1966. The site is now open to the public as part of Royal Victoria Country Park.

Calshot Castle

Calshot Castle

The picturesque Calshot Castle was originally built by Henry VIII to defend the entrance to Southampton waters. As our ferry reaches the Solent, the castle is easily visible at the end of Calshot Spit, which extends from the west into the main waters, with Calshot beach and its long row of beach huts visible further along.

Columbine Building

East Cowes aerial image

The striking Columbine building on the East Cowes waterfront has been a central point of Island industry for many years. Starting with Saunders Roe, which was involved in everything from sea planes, hovercrafts, and rockets, and is currently home to Wight Shipyard, which built two of Red Funnel’s Red Jet fleet. When you spot the iconic Union Jack doors, you’ve arrived on the Island!

Other Red Funnel Ferries

Aerial Image of the ferry

Southampton’s waters and the Solent are always busy with shipping movements, not least with our very own Red Funnel fleet. At peak time we will often have our three vehicle ferries, two Hi-Speed passenger ferries, and our freight ferry all out on the water – so watch out for them, and don’t forget to give our other passengers and crew a customary wave!

Cowes Castle

West cowes

As you approach the Island and arrive at Cowes Harbour, you’ll see another of Henry VIII’s forts, Cowes Castle. The castle is now home and clubhouse to the Royal Yacht Squadron, whose Club organises yacht racing as a principal feature of the now globally famous Cowes Week regatta. Look carefully at the front and you might see the cannons that are used for starting races.

Route FAQ

View frequently asked questions about our routes. 

No, the Isle of Wight is inside the UK and not subject to any border control. ID is required if you are claiming a concession discount or if you want to purchase alcohol and look under 21.

Your booking number will be acceptable - just record it carefully and give it to staff at check-in. If you booked online or booked by phone against your customer number you will be able to login to your account using a Smartphone, retrieve your booking and check-in staff will scan the barcode on your device. If you have also entered your Vehicle registration number, your booking will be found automatically on arrival at our check-in booth.

Yes, subject to availability, but at busy periods this may not be possible and you may be asked to return in time for your booked crossing. Please note that fare difference/amendment fee may apply depending on your booking type. Call our Travel Centre for advice, on 023 8001 9192.

We will endeavour to get you on the next available sailing that has space. This may not be next sailing.

Yes it can.

If arriving early and wishing to travel on an earlier sailing, a booking amendment fee of £5 is payable if you purchased a Saver ticket for this leg of your journey (does not apply to Flexible ticket holders). Additional charges may also apply if changing to a more expensive crossing.
If you miss your booked sailing and have notified us in advance, a £5 booking amendment fee applies if travelling on a saver ticket (Flexible ticket holders are exempt). Additional charges may also apply if changing to a more expensive crossing.

No, you are not permitted to fly drones from our ferries without prior written permission, and completion of a full risk assessment. If you wish to apply for permission, please contact our Marketing department via email.

Old image of a IOW port

Company Timeline

Tracing our roots back to when it all started in 1820, our company timeline provides an at-a-glance snapshot of important milestones and key dates in Red Funnel’s history.

Customer Reviews

1 2 3 4 5
friendly and efficient
Tue, May 28 2024
1 2 3 4 5
Staff helpful, vessels and terminals always clean and well presented. Loading and unloading well managed.
Tue, May 28 2024
1 2 3 4 5
Excellent, all ran to time and were able to board the prior ferry to the one that we booked.
Mon, May 27 2024