Rows of cars parked on car ferry

Isle of Wight Ferries

There are a choice of routes and three operators for crossing The Solent between the south coast of England and the Isle of Wight – Portsmouth to Fishbourne, Southampton to East Cowes and Lymington to Yarmouth.

If you are a foot passenger and time is at a premium, Hover Travel takes just 10 minutes between Southsea and Ryde. Red Funnel has a high-speed catamaran from Southampton T2 terminal to Cowes that takes 28 minutes or Wightlink’s FastCat catamaran between Portsmouth and Ryde takes just 22 minutes. Each is much faster than the average ferry crossing time of between 40 minutes and 1 hour.

Wightlink ferry leaving Portsmouth

Wightlink ferry leaving Portsmouth for the Isle of Wight.

Ferry operator: Wightlink 

  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Over 51 crossings a day
  • Lymington to Yarmouth
  • Portsmouth to Fishbourne
  • Portsmouth to Ryde

Ferry operator: Red Funnel / RedJet 

  • Duration: 60 minutes for the ferry, 28 minutes for the catamaran
  • 12 crossings a day
  • Southampton T1 to East Cowes (ferry)
  • Southampton T2 to West Cowes (catamaran)

Operator: Hover Travel

  • Duration: 10 minutes
  • 28 crossings a day
  • Southsea to Ryde

* Crossing times correct at the time of writing.

Crossing Summary
TYPEDEPARTUREARRIVALOPERATORTRAVEL TIMECHECK-IN TIME
Car & PassengerPortsmouthFishbourneWightlink45 minutes30 to 60 minutes
PassengerPortsmouthRydeWightlink22 minutes15 minutes
Car & PassengerLymingtonYarmouthWightlink40 minutes30 to 60 minutes
Car & PassengerSouthamptonEast CowesRed Funnel55 to 60 minutes30 to 60 minutes
PassengerSouthseaRydeHover Travel10 minutes10 minutes
PassengerSouthamptonWest CowesRedJet30 minutes5 to 15 minutes

Isle of Wight Ferry FAQs

How do I find the ferry terminal?

Portsmouth Car Ferry Terminal 

Portsmouth Car Ferry Terminal is located just off the A3 from the M275 (Junction 12 to Portsmouth (W)/ Seaport in Portsmouth. Use postcode PO1 2LA for your sat nav. For foot passengers arriving by public transport, the Wightlink Gunwharf terminal is 0.9 miles or about 20 minutes by foot. There are various bus options from Station street to drop you at Gunwharf Quays for the ferry terminal. 

Portsmouth FastCat Foot Passenger terminals

The Wrightlink FastCat Foot Passenger terminal is located at Portsmouth Harbour FastCat Passenger Terminal, Portsmouth, PO1 3PS. It is about 1 mile or 20 minutes walk from Portsmouth and Southsea station. Regular bus service is available and takes 12 to 14 minutes. For dropping passengers at the Wrightlink FastCat Foot Passenger terminal by car leave the M275 at junction 12 to Portsmouth (W)/ Seaport and follow the A3 and Park Road the port is located at Gunwharf Quays Shopping Outlet.

Lymington Port Ferry Pier 

Lymington Port Ferry Pier is located in the town of Lymington use the postcode SO41 5SB in your satnav. Lymington Port Ferry Pier has a train station served by South Western Railways. 

Southampton Terminal 1 

By Car use, the postcode S014 2AL in your satnav the Red Funnel Ferries Terminal is located at Terminal 1, Dock Gate 7 (Royal Pier), Town Quay Road, Southampton SO14 2AL. Merge from the M3 onto the M27 at Junction 3 use the left lane to take the exit M271 S to Southampton/ Docks. At the roundabout take the first exit onto the M271 and then follow the A33 to the Red Funnel Terminal Dock Gate 7.

Southampton Terminal 2 

By Car use, the postcode SO14 2AQ in your sat nav the Red Tunnel Red Jet Terminal is located 100ms from terminal 1 on Town Quay. There is a QUAYCONNECT bus line which takes about 10 minutes from Southampton Central Station and is free for Red Funnel ticket holders with through rail (£2 flat fare to paying customers). 

Southsea Hoverport 

By car use, the postcode PO5 3AD in your satnav for the Southsea Hoverport. The hoverport is located on Clarence Esplanade which is off Pier Road A288. If you’re arriving from Portsmouth and Southsea Railway station then Hover Travel offers a Hover Bus (I don’t think the bus is actually a hovercraft). 

Yarmouth Car Ferry Terminal 

By car use, the postcode PO41 0PB, the ferry terminal is located at Yarmouth Car Ferry Terminal, Quay Street, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, PO41 0PB It’s well sign-posted and Yarmouth isn’t that big. 

Fishbourne Car And Passenger Terminal

By car, use the postcode PO33 4EU in your satnav for Fishbourne Car And Passenger Terminal. From the A3054 head to Fishbourne and it’s just off the B3731. 

Ryde Hover Terminal 

By car, use the postcode PO33 2HB  in your satnav for Ryde Hoverport, Ryde PO33 2HB and it’s located on Esplanade/A3055. 

East Cowes Terminal 

By car, use the postcode PO32 6RA in your satnav for the Red Funnel Ferries entrance at East Cowes. There is a chain link ferry that connects East Cowes to West Cowes, you will need to allow extra time if you need to use this route. 

West Cowes RedJet Terminal 

By car, use the postcode PO31 7AR to reach the RedJet Terminal, Cowes PO31 7AR. The terminal is located just off High Street near the Fountain Inn Hotel. There is a chain link ferry that connects East Cowes to West Cowes, you will need to allow extra time if you need to use this route. Make sure you arrive between 30 and 45 minutes before your scheduled departure on Friday, Saturday and Monday and 30 to 60 minutes before on all other days.

How soon do you have to check in for the ferry?

Whitelink 

Foot passengers should check in 15 minutes before your scheduled sailing with a valid ticket. If you’re driving it’s 30 to 60 minutes before your sailing.

Red Funnel 

Make sure you arrive between 30 and 45 minutes before your scheduled departure on Friday, Saturday and Monday and 30 to 60 minutes before on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. 

Redjet 

Check in time is 5 to 15 minutes.

Hover Travel 

Hover Travel advises its passengers to arrive at least 10 minutes before their intended crossings.

What are the facilities on board?

The car ferry, catamaran and hovercraft to the Isle of Wight offer a range of facilities to make the journey as comfortable and convenient as possible for passengers.

The car ferry can accommodate vehicles, including cars, vans, and motorcycles. There are designated areas on the ferry for vehicles, and passengers can choose to travel in their vehicles or in the passenger areas. The car ferry has multiple decks, providing ample space for passengers to walk around, relax, and enjoy the view. The upper decks offer panoramic views of the sea, perfect to admire the sea and the coast. The passenger areas include comfortable seating, as well as a café and snack bar that serves a variety of hot and cold beverages, as well as light meals, sandwiches, and snacks. There is also a gift shop on board, where passengers can purchase souvenirs and essentials.

The catamaran, on the other hand, is designed specifically for passengers, it can travel at a high speed, with a journey time of around 20-25 minutes, which makes it the fastest option to cross the Solent. The catamaran has an open deck at the front of the vessel, which is perfect for enjoying the views and fresh air. Inside, the catamaran has comfortable seating and a small café area serving drinks and snacks.

Finally, the hovercraft is the only commercial hovercraft operator in the UK, it operates a scheduled service between Southsea and Ryde, which is the quickest route taking just 10 minutes. The hovercraft offers an open-air seating area, which is perfect for enjoying the views and fresh air. Inside, the hovercraft has comfortable seating, and a small café area serving drinks and snacks.

All of these options have accessible facilities for passengers with disabilities, including wheelchair ramps and designated seating areas. They are equipped with modern navigation and safety equipment, ensuring a safe and comfortable journey for all passengers. The staff is friendly and helpful and will assist passengers with any queries or concerns they may have.