Category: Member news

Hovertravel secures gold standard for green tourism on both sides of Solent

Hovertravel secures gold standard for green tourism on both sides of Solent

Hovertravel has been awarded gold in both the Visit Portsmouth and Visit Isle of Wight Green Tourism Awards; securing the highest possible level of accreditation for operating sustainably and responsibly on both sides of, as well as across, the Solent.

Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “We are committed to being respectful to the environment and managing a sustainable operation with  these phrases embedded in our mission and value statements. Our HoverGreen brand has been a highly successful way of engaging our staff and stakeholders to continually improve our environmental performance. We recognise that we have more work to do and both these awards, alongside our ISO 14001 accreditation, are demonstrable proof that we are headed in the right direction. We are proud to be the first Isle of Wight ferry company to achieve these awards.”

The award schemes follow similar guidelines based around three themes: people, place, and our planet. These themes are to promote sustainable and responsible tourism and under each theme there are four criteria to meet.

Alongside the repurposing of our used rubber from our hovercraft into a unique souvenir range and into secondary uses in equestrian and horticultural environments, HoverGreen has also maintained an awareness of the impact the operation has on the environment; particularly those areas of operation which are environmentally protected and looked to reduce the consumption of resources and improve the efficient and sustainable use of those resources.

For more details please visit:

Irish Ferries Fleet Changes for Rosslare Pembroke and Dover Calais Routes

Irish Ferries Fleet Changes for Rosslare Pembroke and Dover Calais Routes

Irish Ferries is pleased to announce that the ro-ro cruise ferry Isle of Innisfree will move to the Rosslare Pembroke route, replacing a temporary charter ship currently servicing the route.  The Isle of Innisfree was built in 1992 by the Boelwerf shipyard in Belgium and has the capacity to carry up to 1,140 passengers, 83 freight vehicles or 600 cars. The ship offers a host of quality facilities for freight drivers/passengers including Boylan’s Brassiere self-service restaurant, Café Lafayette, a Club Class lounge, onboard duty-free shop, children’s play area and spacious outdoor decks.  A freight driver’s lounge and cabins complete the accommodation.

Irish Ferries have also confirmed today the addition of the Spirit of Britain to its fleet.  The ship, which will be renamed, will join the Dover to Calais route in June, replacing the Isle of Innisfree on this busy route, the key trade link for the UK to Europe.

Spirit of Britain entered service in 2011, following construction at STX Europe (Aker) shipyard in Rauma, Finland.   The 213m long ship has capacity for up to 2000 passengers, 1,059 cars or 180 freight vehicles, and can travel at a speed of up to 22 knots.

The ship will undergo rebranding to its livery and to add the popular Irish Ferries outlets, completing the comfortable passenger areas and on-board facilities, which includes a Club lounge with its own outdoor area, children’s play area, Duty Free Shop, pet lounge, and expansive outdoor decks. Freight drivers can also enjoy the well-equipped facilities, including a drivers’ lounge and dedicated showers.

Whether travelling for business, holidays or to visit loved ones, Irish Ferries’ award-winning hospitality and outstanding service brings a unique travel experience that is built on Irish Ferries’ ethos of encouraging passengers to ‘Sea Travel Differently’.

Andrew Sheen, Managing Director at Irish Ferries, said: “The addition of the Isle of Innisfree on the Rosslare Pembroke route and the Spirit of Britain on the Dover – Calais route is a sign of our ongoing commitment to these routes, and ensuring we offer our freight and passenger customers quality service for these important connections between Britain and Ireland and Britain and France. We look forward to welcoming passengers on board to experience our award-winning hospitality and service.” 

Prices for one-way sailings start from €170 for a car plus 1 adult on its Rosslare Pembroke route and from €84 for a car and up to nine passengers on its Dover Calais route.  Customers can book online at Passenger bookings made with Irish Ferries, whatever the route, can earn points for savings on future sailings with its loyalty programme, Irish Ferries Club

Hovertravel releases over 60 late flights for July & August

Hovertravel releases over 60 late flights for July & August

Hovertravel has enhanced its evening and night-time timetable by adding 66 flights across the summer months of July and August.

Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Our customers have said they would like to see later flights to and from the Isle of Wight at certain times of the year. Additionally, we already have timetabled extra flights to support events such as Big Beach Weekender, Isle of Wight Pride and the Victorious Festival. These festivals are within walking distance of our terminals and the later flights provide great opportunities for people to travel in the opposite direction.

We are promoting these extra flights from now to give customers plenty of time to plan some of their summer evenings, on both sides of Solent.”

The longer days and warmer temperatures of the late summer months, combined with the school holidays are the best time to enjoy evening activities. With award-winning restaurants, several theatres and the chance to see some spectacular sunsets with friends and family, Southsea and Ryde are great night-time destinations.

Foodies are spoilt for choice in Ryde with both The Duck restaurant and Michelin-starred chef Robert Thompson’s RT Café Grill & Thompson’s just a few minutes from our terminal, whilst in Southsea a gentle stroll along the sea front brings you to The Briny or you can cross the Common to sample Southsea’s burgeoning street food scene.

Theatre goers and music-lovers alike will love the surroundings of Kings Theatre in Southsea which offers an extensive programme of tribute acts from all genres of music.

Loretta added: “Our customers also tell us that as well as going out, they want the late flights to extend the time they have when hosting or visiting friends and family. So now you can plan barbecues, parties and get-togethers secure in the knowledge you can fly back across the Solent in under ten minutes.”

Hovertravel’s late flights start as early 2115 with several operating late into the night and even past midnight. For specific times, dates and to book please visit:

Automated gates arrive on Wightlink’s FastCat foot passenger route

Automated gates arrive on Wightlink’s FastCat foot passenger route

Wightlink Fastcat service to Ryde Pier
Wightlink’s FastCat ferry at Ryde Pier

Foot passengers travelling on Wightlink’s FastCats between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier will be using automatic entrance gates at both ports by early May 2024. The gates will also accept electronic through tickets for customers combining cross-Solent travel with rail journeys.

Once customers have passed through the electronic gates, they will be able to relax in the passenger lounge until their FastCat is ready for boarding. Port staff will be around to support and advise customers during and after the installation of the gates.

Wightlink has invested half a million pounds in the technology at its terminals to make foot passenger journeys easier and provide a direct link to rail ticketing systems. The gates will be able to recognise rail tickets with barcodes or QR codes as well as Wightlink paper tickets, passes and online tickets on smart phones. Customers using rail tickets with magnetic strips will need them to be scanned manually by port staff as will adults travelling with children.

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says:

“We are always looking at how to improve how our customers travel through our ports and these gates will make it easier for people with a combined rail and FastCat e-ticket.”

Hovertravel’s Hoverbus has all-new look, thanks to new operator

Hovertravel’s Hoverbus has all-new look, thanks to new operator

From left to right: James Eustace, First Solent’s Commercial Director, and Neil Chapman, Hovertravel’s Managing Director

Hovertravel has awarded First Bus the contract to operate its Hoverbus service, which connects the hovercraft for crossings to and from the Isle of Wight taking passengers from stops across Portsmouth to its Southsea Terminal, starting from Wednesday 01 May.  From this date, customers will see a new bus with a new livery, although the timetable and route remain the same. To encourage more people to use the service, ticket prices are being reduced, making the Hoverbus an even more competitive option for all passengers.

Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “Connecting our hovercraft service with both train stations and city centre of Portsmouth is a crucial part of our customer journey and we are delighted to be working with First Bus to offer the Hoverbus.  We are also keen to see how we can be a proactive partner for the First Bus network, hopefully offering our customers better access to more connections.”

The Hoverbus circular route includes:

  • Portsmouth’s The Hard Interchange, for coach connections, Portsmouth Harbour rail station, Gosport Ferry, Gunwharf Quays, Historic Dockyard and Spinnaker Tower.
  • Commercial Road, for Portsmouth & Southsea rail station, Cascades Shopping Centre, The Guildhall and City Museum.
  • Bus stops for the University buildings.

Passengers are able to alight and board at all stops all along the route.

First Solent’s Commercial Director, James Eustace, said: “We’re very proud to be appointed to run this flagship service, connecting people across Portsmouth and Southsea to the Isle of Wight. HoverBus is a fantastic bus option that that anyone can use – not just passengers for the hovercraft. We look forward to delivering a first-class service for all.

We are also keen to see how we can enhance this service, as well as encouraging wider uptake of the bus, hopefully attracting customers across the city not just those passengers traveling between Southsea and the Isle of Wight.”

Refurbished Manannan returns to service with brand new facilities for passengers and crew

Refurbished Manannan returns to service with brand new facilities for passengers and crew

Manannan Forward Lounge

The Isle of Man’s Steam Packet Company’s (IOMSPC) High Speed Craft Manannan has had a Spring refurbishment to coincide with the start of its return to Liverpool sailings on Friday 22nd March.

The upgrade in facilities includes a brand new children’s play area, upgraded pet kennels, a larger retail area and an enhanced crew area. With the addition of the brand-new Manxman and the newly refurbished Manannan, IOMSPC is the pride of the Irish Sea with two of the best-appointed and quality vessels in the region.

Passengers choosing to sit in the popular forward cabin on sailings to and from Liverpool will be able to relax in newly upholstered seating. The forward lounge has also received new floor and wall coverings, giving the Manannan a fresh and modern feel.

Children travelling on board will be pleased to see the addition of a new play area, complete with purpose designed Tigerplay soft play equipment and seating for adult supervisors.

For those travelling with pets, the Manannan has much larger and more comfortable kennels with an increased number available to help cater for the demand on the Liverpool route. Final touches are being made to the kennels and they will be ready for use in due course.

As well as passenger comfort, the refit has taken consideration of crew needs with a larger and much improved crew mess to enhance the working environment.

Our crew and staff are proud to provide the highest level of service in the British Isles and our vessels are the envy of the Irish Sea,” said Brian Thomson, IOMSPC Managing Director.

We’re pleased to complete our renovations and invest in giving Manannan a modern and fresh overhaul to provide our passengers and crew with a higher quality and comfortable experience on board. We are looking forward to welcoming passengers on board for our first sailings to Liverpool for the summer season.

The upgrade is the second and final phase of the refurbishment, following last year’s refit of the bar, Premium and Executive lounges, and other passenger areas. 

Sailings to Liverpool get underway on March 22nd. From March 22nd to March 28th, Manannan will head to Liverpool light ship in the morning to undertake berth trials and PECs. This will mean it departs one hour later for its daily return sailings to the current Landing Stage terminal in Liverpool.

  • Douglas to Liverpool 15:00hrs  – Sailings will now depart at 16:00hrs
  • Liverpool to Douglas 19:15hrs – Sailings will now depart at 20:00hrs

Manannan successfully berthed at the new terminal for the first time last week. Further berthing trials, which are a mandatory safety procedure, will take place to ensure IOMSPC captains become accustomed to the new berth at all tide levels.

Manannan will require minor modification, which will be carried out on the island, to the port superstructure to accommodate the new terminal’s Passenger Access System.

The new terminal building will soon be handed over to IOMSPC to undertake final fit-out, install equipment and support staff while they become familiarised with the facility. The opening for the new terminal will be confirmed in due course.

For more information and to book Liverpool sailing visit the IOMSPC website.

Maritime Minister Lord Davies of Gower discusses the future of shipping on a visit to Wightlink

Maritime Minister Lord Davies of Gower discusses the future of shipping on a visit to Wightlink

Maritime Minister Lord Davies of Gower and Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield discuss the future of shipping

Wightlink welcomed Maritime Minister Lord Davies of Gower to its port in Portsmouth to discuss the company’s vision to reach net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible through powering its fleet with sustainable energy. The Minister and Department for Transport officials toured Wightlink’s ferry St Clare and met crew on the Bridge.

Wightlink already operates England’s first hybrid energy vehicle ferry, Victoria of Wight, which entered service in 2018. It uses both powerful batteries and conventional diesel generators as it sails between Portsmouth and Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. The company is now ambitious to build all-electric ferries, with zero carbon emissions, once shore power can be supplied to recharge the batteries after every crossing.

“The Minister was interested to hear about our plans for the future of our fleet,” says Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield. “We are excited at the prospect of reaching net zero and are ready to commission new ferries once we are assured that electricity can be available at our ports.

“Wightlink is currently installing solar panels to generate power from sunshine and more EV charging points. It is also ramping up its recycling programme and reducing food miles.”

Wightlink supports customers with visual impairments to travel by ferry

Wightlink supports customers with visual impairments to travel by ferry

Sight for Wight CEO Lisa Hollyhead with Wightlink Port Operations Lead Mike McHale at Ryde Pier

Finding your way around Wightlink’s ports is now easier for people with visual impairments.

The ferry company has teamed up with Isle of Wight charity Sight for Wight to produce and install special QR codes at the entrance to each port. When an individual scans the code with their mobile phone, they will get an audio and video description of the layout of the terminal so they can walk around it with confidence.

More than 50 locations on the Island have now signed up to place the QR codes on their premises and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police have also taken up the initiative.

Sight for Wight’s Chief Executive Lisa Hollyhead came up with the idea of QR codes with information after Covid restrictions meant many shops made changes to their premises to allow for social distancing and regular customers with visual impairments suddenly had problems getting around.

“Ferryports are busy places so it’s important for all customers to know where to buy tickets, how to find the toilets and where to queue to board their sailings,” says Lisa. “We are pleased that Wightlink has come on board with our Hello Everyone initiative.”

Details about the scheme and the QR codes are available on Wightlink’s website

Wightlink Commercial Director Phil Delaney adds: “We want everyone to feel at home in our terminals and be able to find their way around. This is an excellent idea and we are very happy to install the codes at all our ports.”

P&O Ferries leads the way on the decarbonisation of its fleet

P&O Ferries leads the way on the decarbonisation of its fleet with emission reduction and pioneering fuel efficiency measures

  • P&O Ferries cut almost 50,000 tons of carbon emissions from its operation in 2023 with the introduction of a new hybrid ferry and its new dedicated initiative to reduce fuel consumption – the Fleet Support Centre for Fuel and Energy Efficiency.
  • This follows a reduction of over 85,000 tons in 2022, achieved through partnerships with other operators to enable the company to sail less frequently – and other measures to improve the technical efficiency of its vessels.

P&O Ferries has today shared promising results from its new fuel and energy efficiency initiative following significant measures to reduce carbon emissions in 2023. The introduction of P&O Ferries’ new dedicated Fleet Support Centre for Fuel and Energy Efficiency, alongside the introduction of the new hybrid ferry P&O Pioneer, has contributed to a reduction of almost 50,000 tons of carbon emissions from the fleet during 2023.

P&O’s Fleet Support Centre for Fuel and Energy Efficiency

P&O’s Fleet Support Centre, based at the company’s Dover headquarters, uses the latest SmartShip technology and fuel meters onboard each ferry. This gives the company a wealth of new data that can be used to track and reduce fuel and energy consumption. The ability to see granular data on fuel consumption for each route and vessel allows P&O Ferries to investigate any changes in consumption and see the result of efficiency efforts straight away.

The data also gives deep insight into the impact of different variables such as: the weather, operating system, method of operating the vessel and its schedule. Close collaboration with the ship teams  and other stakeholders is critical to the success of fuel reduction in using the data to optimise vessel performance.

Since the rollout across the P&O Ferries’ fleet in recent months, the Fleet Support Centre’s new approach has reduced fuel consumption and related emissions on key routes during 2023, with further fuel reductions of 5% expected for 2024.

Examples of the initiative’s results so far include:

  • On the Hull-Rotterdam route, a change in speed and consumption was noted as the vessels adjusted to keep on schedule. A slight adjustment to the schedule allowed the vessels to keep to a consistent speed and resulted in a fuel reduction of 3.6% ton per leg.
  • On the Larne-Cairnryan route, the two vessels were showing different fuel consumption despite operating the same route. Deeper analysis of their operating systems and the route showed a 7% decrease in fuel consumption in 2023.
  • On the Dover-Calais route, the new system allowed P&O Ferries to find the most effective way to operate its new hybrid ferry P&O Pioneer, which uses a technologically advanced system with battery packs that optimises efficiency and significantly reduces emissions. This new approach ensures the vessel consumes the least fuel necessary for effective operations.

P&O Pioneer’s impact on emissions

P&O Pioneer was introduced on the Dover-Calais route in June 2023. The vessel’shybrid technology and innovative double-ended design (meaning that she does not need to turn around to leave the port) means that she uses up to 40% less fuel per crossing compared to our other vessels on the Dover-Calais route. This reduces carbon emissions by 6.49 tons per crossing – this is broadly equivalent to driving an average diesel car for 23,500 miles. P&O Ferries’ second hybrid ferry, P&O Liberté will come into service in March 2024, completing the replacement of the oldest generation of vessels in the company’s cross-Channel fleet.

Owen Barry, Director of Maritime Operations at P&O Ferries, said:

“P&O Ferries is committed to decarbonising its operation and our two new hybrid ferries, P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberté have shown that we are a step ahead in reducing our fuel consumption and related emissions. But for us to continue to drive down our emissions we have taken steps to digitalise our entire fleet so we have useful and reliable data on how our vessels are performing.

“We believe that our approach is leading the sector by combining the latest technology with a dedicated, experienced in-house team who work in close collaboration with our crew to get the best performance from every vessel in our fleet. We have already seen a solid reduction of fuel compared to 2022 and we expect another 5% decrease during 2024.”

Pet cabins to be available on Commodore Clipper this summer

Pet cabins to be available on Commodore Clipper this Summer

(29 January 2024) CONDOR is introducing pet friendly cabins onto a second vessel to reflect the popularity and positive feedback received from passengers.

Following the installation of six cabins on Condor Islander for the ship’s entry into service last November, the company is to convert a similar number on Commodore Clipper for the start of the Summer season.

John Napton, Condor’s CEO, said: ‘We are seeing more pet travel in recent years and the reaction from passengers travelling on Islander has been overwhelmingly positive, so we have listened and are now extending this to Clipper.

‘Our figures show that in 2019, we carried 12,700 pets on our routes from the UK to Jersey and Guernsey and inter-island, whereas in 2022 that figure had soared to 16,600, an increase of 30%.’

The six cabins on Clipper will each feature hard, laminate flooring and an outside deck will be accessible for exercise. Pets can still be carried in a vehicle or appropriate carrier on the car deck on Clipper, Islander, along with Condor Liberation and Condor Voyager.

‘Condor is continually investing in its fleet and services and an important part of this is listening to our passengers. We anticipate that the cabins, which will be converted in time for the busy Summer, to be very popular,’ added Mr Napton.