The Coronavirus outbreak has had a significant impact on the numbers of people who want to travel to and from the Isle of Wight. Far fewer people than usual want to cross the Solent at present and the Government has advised against non-essential travel.
This change to passenger volumes has affected all cross-Solent operators and is not sustainable as this crisis is likely to last for many weeks. Wightlink has therefore decided, following discussions with Isle of Wight Council, and in accord with other operators, to bring in a reduced timetable with fewer sailings during this emergency.
Wightlink will be prioritising essential freight supplies to the Island including food and fuel as well as assisting the NHS and emergency services. But there will be plenty of sailings that individuals can book if needed.
It will mean a two-hourly service on the Lymington-Yarmouth service and hourly sailings on the Portsmouth-Fishbourne car ferry and FastCat passenger routes. Please see the Wightlink website or mobile app for details of sailings.
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says: “We need to take this action and know it will affect the travel plans of some of our customers. However, bringing essential supplies to the Isle of Wight is our key priority at present, together with supporting the NHS and emergency services. This new timetable will also allow greater resilience to cope with increased levels of staff absence due to self-isolations”.
All information about the new timetable can be found on www.wightlink.co.uk. Wightlink’s Contact Centre and ticket office teams have all the details, too. Customers who want to amend their bookings can do so for free online.
Safety of customers and colleagues continues to be Wightlink’s highest priority. Crew members are continually cleaning vessels and passenger terminals. All of Wightlink’s ships are well-ventilated with fresh air, not recycled air, and passengers can choose to travel on the outside decks of car ferries and passenger FastCats if conditions permit.
Wightlink now allows customers to stay in their vehicles, following detailed discussions and agreement with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The Portsmouth to Fishbourne car ferry, St Clare, is now reserved for people who wish to do this. St Clare sails on the even hour from Portsmouth (06:00, 08:00 etc) and the odd hour from Fishbourne (07:00, 09:00 etc). All other services (both Portsmouth to Fishbourne and Lymington to Yarmouth) will operate in the usual way with all customers leaving their vehicles after embarkation and spending the crossing in passenger lounges.
For more information, visit www.wightlink.co.uk/coronavirus