Want to stay in your car when travelling on an Isle of Wight ferry?

With Covid infection rates nationally climbing to their highest rate to date, News OnTheWight asked the Isle of Wight ferry companies about passengers remaining in vehicles. Here’s what Red Funnel and Wightlink said

on ferry during stay in vehicles period with emergency vehicles

With the introduction of tighter travel restrictions introduced last Sunday due to a new strain of Coronavirus (Covid-19) appearing to be more contagious, News OnTheWight got in touch with the Isle of Wight cross-Solent ferry companies.

We asked whether they would allow passengers to remain in their vehicles for the crossing, as they did back during the first lockdown from March until July 2020.

It’s worth remembering that residents on the Island can travel off for work, education, healthcare or caring responsibilities.

Red Funnel: Over 1,000 requests to stay in vehicles
When asked whether Red Funnel would considering a return to allowing all passengers to stay in their vehicles, the spokesperson for the company said,

“As Red Funnel continues to operate within Tiers 1 and 2, we are not bringing back our full ‘stay in vehicle’ service.

“We will, however, continue to offer this service on a limited basis for vulnerable passengers travelling for medical reasons, or passengers who need to quarantine.

“We have operated this service in this format since May 2020 and have since facilitated over 1,000 requests. Based on excellent feedback from the vulnerable customers we assist with this service, we are confident that the service is working as intended but do continue to evaluate the need to make any changes.”

Wightlink: For reasons of maritime safety
When we asked Wightlink the same question – which connects with Tier 4 Portsmouth – their spokesperson replied,

“Wightlink will continue to require customers to get out of their vehicles when they are parked on deck and spend the journey in the company’s spacious lounges or outside decks.

“This is for reasons of maritime safety because far more people are travelling at present than during the first lockdown.

“More than eight months after the start of the pandemic, Wightlink staff are fully experienced in keeping all public areas Covid-secure with high levels of cleanliness and hygiene.”

Image: © Leif Marriner

Tuesday, 22nd December, 2020 6:54pm


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Filed under: Ferry, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Travel

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17 Comments on "Want to stay in your car when travelling on an Isle of Wight ferry?"

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Justin Case
“Wightlink will continue to require customers to get out of their vehicles… for reasons of maritime safety because far more people are travelling at present than during the first lockdown.” Is it just me? Have my powers of reasoning diminished? If “MORE people are travelling at present” I imagine that the danger presented by being in an enclosed space is increased. Further more, the argument that placing… Read more »
Benny C
I’d like all the visitors who aren’t residents or who are second home owners to stay in their cars when the ferries land on the island, then stay in the ferries, then go home like responsible folk. We don’t need selfish people here. Because of them and the Councils dithering in the face of an obvious oncoming problem that only they couldn’t see we are now in… Read more »

Common sense would be that EVERYONE stayed in their cars during ALL CROSSINGS……. but then nobody would buy overpriced food & drinks.


The inescapable conclusion is that Wightlink and Red Funnel do not care.


Both ferry companies response’s illustrate how woefully out of touch they are to the real dangers this virus presents to both their customers and staff.

Neither ferry company is addressing the problem directly. Red Funnel is only seeking to protect the most vulnerable passengers, not considering how an hour-long journey on public transport can facilitate the spread of the far more virulent strain of the Covid virus that is currently sweeping the country. Wightlink is more concerned about ‘maritime safety’ than a pandemic that is claiming more lives on the Island than… Read more »
Rhos yr Alarch

Very true – and no-one really knows who is most vulnerable to the virus. The level of risk is only an educated guess. Many who on paper have a low risk have lost their lives, whilst others in high risk groups have survived…


I’m absolutely not getting this ? If Red Funnel permitted staying in vehicles during the original lockdown period in the Spring, why can’t they do the same now ? What has changed ? Either it is safe to travel in cars or it isn’t ? The bundles on the stairs to get off ferries are particularly concerning – most definitely not socially distanced

Mark L Francis

How is you sitting in your own car a “service”?
I assume its only unsafe if the ship actually sinks. I think the last one to do so was bombed in World war 2.


Think it’s to do with the risk of fire and problems of evacuation away from such a fire.

I wrote to Red Funnel weeks ago tomake a suggestion. When they announce people should return to vehicles, there is a big and not socially-distanced crowd at the top of the stairs. Then people go down close together, most using the hand rails. There is not need for this. I suggested a couple of minutes earlier they call for people parked on the bottom level, allow them… Read more »
Angela Hewitt

It’s not even about making money it’s about Mr Jobsworth


Six passengers in the last 10 years died in boats operated around the UK.

Please, during a pandemic, let us reach out to those with a sense of reason to change this unreasonable situation.


We travelled back from Yarmouth to Lymington about 2 weeks ago. Four days later I received a notification on the NHS Covid app that I had encountered someone on that day that had subsequently tested positive for Covid 19. The only place I could have encountered anyone was on the ferry. This resulted in us having to self isolate for 14 days. Thankfully, we didn’t catch it,… Read more »

common sense would be that EVERYONE stays in their cars during all crossings…… of course then nobody would buy overpriced drinks & food. !!!!

I just can’t understand why passengers aren’t being ENCOURAGED to stay in their cars. I came home from visiting my mother in October and the wightlink ferry was absolutely full. It was pouring with rain so no-one was out on the top deck and it felt really unsafe to be confined in inside space with so many people. When I got home I wrote to Wightlink and… Read more »
Wightlink state that they practice very high standards of protection and hygiene. I have seen some of their hospitality staff barely disinfecting the tables after use and forget the chairs completely, if the truth be known they are probably only allowed the minimum amount of time to perform the onerous task. Wightlink should allow passengers to stay in the vehicles to allow the maximum amount of protection… Read more »