Ferry Operators

Red Funnel

Carrying people cross the Solent for almost 200 years

Red Funnel, the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820, carries 2.3 million passengers and more than 857,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes each year, and more than one million passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on its Red Jet Hi-Speed service.

The company first started trialling a Hi-Speed service between Southampton and West Cowes from 1933 to 1938 with the 11-seat twin engine motor cruiser Island Enterprise, and the service has continued to evolve, culminating in the introduction of high speed Red Jet vessels as demand continued to grow throughout the 1980s.

After a succession of high-performing craft from North West Bay Ships in Tasmania, Red Funnel last year placed a £6m order with Cowes shipbuilder Sherma for the 275-seater Red Jet 6 - the first order of its type for a UK yard in 15 years. The vessel is expected to enter service in July 2016.

The waterjet propelled craft have provided a much enhanced travel experience, proving hugely successful with passengers.

Red Jet 6
An artist impression of the new Red Jet 6 entering service in July 2016

In addition to ferry travel, Red Funnel is the only cross-Solent operator to offer ferry inclusive bonded holiday accommodation, attraction tickets, festival and event tickets and activity packages. Sub-brands include ‘Red Jet’ (the Hi-Speed passenger only ferry service serving West Cowes) and two food and beverage brands, ‘Steam Coffee Company’ and ‘ReFuel’.

The company is a founder member of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, the Island’s not for profit destination management organisation and Red Funnel sponsors or supports most of the Island’s premier events including the IW Festival, Bestival, AAM Cowes Week, IW Literary Festival, IW Newport Jazz Festival, IW Walking Festival, V-Dub Island, Ventnor Fringe Festival and Wolverton Manor Garden Show as well as a range of community and niche interest events.

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