12 reviews from the community
Review of "Wightlink Ferries"
Thanks to everyone for the ratings especially the E's - much appreciated I am back! I have missed you all!
Having booked our Isle of Wight holiday, we had to consider how we were going to get there on account of it being an island! Living a couple of hours from the coast, we knew we were going to need to take our car with us (which we would have wanted anyway as I hate relying on public transport), so that did rule out certain pathways across the sea. We decided upon the most well known ferry company (and a very long running company of over 160 years) to the island and immediately booked.
There are a few options of where to travel from and to with Wightlink depending on your preferences. I have only travelled the one route so can only review that, though I would imagine the service would be the same on any route you decide to take. The main vehicle ferry routes are as follows:
BOOKING AND PRICES
- Lymington to Yarmouth (40 minutes)
- Portsmouth to Fishbourne (45 minutes)
There used to be a route from Southampton, though I can not see this on the website so they have either stopped this or it is run by another company!
If you are travelling on foot, you also have the option to take the fast passenger-only catamaran which leaves from Portsmouth and arrives at Ryde Pier Head (22 minutes) which then directly leads to the Island railway line which is handy.We chose to take the Portsmouth to Fishbourne route both ways. This route is perfect for central and east of the island, though to be honest, the island is so small that you can reach most places from Fishbourne in less than an hour.
You are able to ring up and book though the easiest and quickest option is online at their website: http://www.wightlink.co.ukWhen booking, you will have to go through a series of questions about your vehicle and who is travelling. This is the thing that takes most time as you even need the precise height of your car, including any extras such as a roof box. Unfortunately, the site does not give prices until you go through all of the booking rigmarole so I can only give you a glimpse of the different costs from what I can find as well as what we paid.
FOOT PASSENGERSThere are a number of combination tickets available for foot passengers which offer a variety of options both on the ferry and once you have reached your destination. These tickets apparently hold a number of discounts so do look around before booking.
Prices for foot passengers are shown on the website as they have less factors to consider. You are also allowed to take your push bike on for free!Prices for foot passengers are as follows:
One day return - £15.40
Return within 364 nights - £21.00
Single - £10.50
One day return: £7.70
Return within 364 nights - £10.50
Single - £5.25
A family ticket for one adult and four children or two adults and three children is £40.40Senior Citizen (60+):
One day return - £11.50
Return within 364 nights - £15.70
Single - £7.85
One day return - £13.00
Return within 364 nights - £17.70
Single - £8.85
VEHICLE PASSENGERSIt is more difficult to give you an all round idea of a price for vehicles as you have to go through all the booking before finding out your price, which is an annoying feature in my opinion, though to give you an idea, we travelled from Portsmouth to Fishbourne at the beginning of April on a Monday (non-peak time) with a return on the Friday. There were the three of us travelling (two adults, one child) with an average sized car inclusive of roof-box. Our return journey was a different price to our outward journey due to times chosen. Below is the breakdown of what we paid:
Outward journey leaving at 9.30am - £56.35
Return journey leaving at 6pm - £63.05
Total - £119.40
Once booked, you will receive all information via email, though we did not seem to get ours and had to ring up and request it to be sent again as this is needed for boarding as this is classed as your ticket.
For either booking, whether it is passenger only or with vehicle, there is no booking fee if you book online, though you will have to pay £5 if you book at the call centre and £10 if booking through the ticket office. There is a cancellation fee of £5, though as far as I can tell, this is only if it is within 24 hours before you sail.
Vouchers are able to be used when booking either way, including Tesco clubcard vouchers which comes in handy!If you are disabled and need any specific help with anything, do let them know in advance. There is lifts and most of the ferry is accessible to wheelchairs, though I am unsure on the above deck area as could not see if the lifts went that far up. Guide dogs are also welcome on board free of charge.
Personally, I think the pricing is a little expensive for what it is. I believe there is an airport over to the island, though other than this sailing over is your only way to get to the island. Booking wise, it couldnt be easier, though it seems that communication is perhaps not the best as the email did seem to remain unsent until we chased it up.
BEFORE SAILINGThere is a handy travel update app that you can download for free which gives you up to date information on your ferry and you are also able to look on their website, though I am not sure how up to date this second option is. We also found out on our return that the company sends out a text message with any delays. We found out an hour before we were due to sail that our ferry was delayed by an hour. Unfortunately, they did not specify whether we had to still arrive there at the specified time or later, so we did give them a call. The customer service team answered quickly and were very helpful, though we were told we would still have to get there at the original time. Unfortunately, the delay was more like a two hour delay, waiting in the hot car without much of an update unless you could flag down the ferry staff on their rounds, which became increasingly difficult possibly due to abuse others may have given them, so I do not blame them for trying to hide away!
On the day of departure, you must arrive at the port between 30-60 minutes early with your ticket. (15 minutes for foot passengers). I can not comment on the other ports, though Portsmouth port was relatively easy to find with many sign posts available to show you the way. The postcode to the port is PO1 2LA and should be recognised by all sat-navs. From the M25, take junction 10 and head to Hampshire. Continue on the A3(M) towards the A3 into Portsmouth where you will continue on until you reach the B2154 which will then take you straight to the port.Once we arrived at the port, we we greeted by ferry staff and directed to the relevant aisle in the waiting area. If you arrive earlier than an hour before you set sail, you will not be able to wait in this area and instead be directed to a pay and display carpark. This is avaliable at all the Wightlink ports except for Yarmouth. Whilst we were waiting, we were able to go to one of the shops nearby for snacks, though I believe there is also a cafe in Portsmouth port area. There definitely was in Fishbourne. We began to dock at about 9.15 though did not set sail until 9.45, 15 minutes late, though I had no problem with this. As already mentioned, the return journey was significantly delayed which was more of an issue, though apparently you are able to claim some money back if the delay is over two hours. As of yet, I have not seen if this is true or not, though will keep you updated.
I was always very nervous about driving onto the ferry, which is why my partner did the driving for this journey, though it was not as bad as I imagined. The staff knew exactly where to put people and everything was very well organised. The passage to the top floor parking where we were directed was rather narrow, though, and a few cars did have slight problems manoeuvring around the post, so I was glad not to be driving. On the return journey, it was a bit more chaotic as we were so delayed, they were trying to get as many people on the ferry as they could, bringing the cars right to the front of the ferry, which was not a problem until it was time to disembark as some had to do some clever back and forth manoeuvring to actually be able to leave the ferry!TRAVELLING
Once on board, everyone has to vacate their cars for safety reasons and go up onto one of the floors, either inside or outside above deck. Lifts are available, though most people do tend to take the stairs. On our return journey, we did have a slightly different ferry to our first ferry, though both have the same amenities and basic layout.There is plenty of seating available throughout the ferry, both inside and out, and a good amount available with tables if you choose to eat on your journey. The main deck is beautifully decorated and well kept, though the toilets on the way over were not overly pleasant at all, which is a shame as it let the side down a bit. On the return journey, we did not visit the toilets for this reason! There are a couple of exits to the outside deck which host some wonderful views, especially when we left the Island to return home, for the sun was setting amazingly behind the island, creating a wonderful experience. On the second ferry, there were three outside floors, all with seating areas, so lots of room to breathe!
There is a small cafe bar bit onboard that sells a host of different food and drink, including what we all craved once we got there- Costa! Prices and opening times vary, though they do seem reasonably flexible. On the return journey, I noticed they were meant to close at 6.30. Our return journey should have set sail at 6, though with the two hour delay, I had thought they would have been closed, though they stayed open until about 8.15 which was great. The staff were also very helpful and in the main, very happy even though you could see that they probably just wanted to go home! Apparently, if your ferry is delayed, you get offered a drink, snack or meal dependant on how long it has been delayed, though we were not offered any of this.There is not currently any wifi on board, though apparently this is changing, as is the smoking rule, for at the moment, you are still able to smoke on the outside deck, though at the time of writing this review, it is said to be changing, though the voice-over person will alert you of any changes to the rules.
Travelling to and from the island on Wightlink was certainly a pleasant experience for all of us. My daughter was very nervous to sail for the first time, though due to the relaxed nature of the journey, she is now over her fear of boats. On the way home, due to the delay, the staff did all they could to get everyone on the ferry as soon as they could, and even requested a shorter route which only took us 30 minutes opposed to the 45/50 minute journey over to the island, which is not much though it was the best they could do and was appreciated.
From the booking to the actual journey, it was a pleasure. Yes, it was not without its flaws, and the delay was certainly annoying, though we found out later that this was due to a car breaking down or something along those lines which caused additional problems, so yes, it was annoying, though the company did all they could to sort it out, and sadly, had to put up with a lot of horrid people throwing abuse at them which is certainly out of order, though they coped well with it all, and we returned safely, which is what mattered.I think it is important to chose your transport to the island carefully, as who wants to be worrying about the return journey throughout the holiday, though luckily we did not have to. Both journeys despite the delay back, was relaxing and pleasant, and I could not have wished for a better first boat journey for my daughter.
The only real issue I have with Wightlink is the prices as they are really way too high for what it is. I do not know prices of other companies so can not compare, though I am sure that they could lower their prices and still make a profit and perhaps more people would use them. I feel that perhaps they put their prices on this scale as there really is limited ways to get to the island, though many people possibly avoid travelling to the Isle of Wight due to this, which is a huge shame as the island is truly an amazing place to visit.BRIEF OVERALL RATINGS
Thank you for reading.
Product Information : Wightlink Ferries
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 11/05/2001