Milestones: T’s First Trip on a Ferry (with Red Funnel) [AD]

Last week, during school half term, we visited the Isle of Wight. We’d never been before as a family, and didn’t know much about the area, so we thought we’d take advantage of the bargain we’d found and booked a little break.

You can read more about our holiday and what we got up to here.

What made this holiday extra special though is the fact that it would offer T his first trip on a ferry. Prior to this, his only experience was a small car ferry in the Lake District or the cargo ferry that comes in at a neighbouring town, so this was going to be a whole new experience!

After then speaking to the lovely folks at Red Funnel, and letting them know about this exciting milestone, they kindly provided us with outward and return tickets! Here’s how we, or more so T, go on:

From Brighton, we have two options when it comes to where we can travel from to get the Isle of Wight; Portsmouth or Southampton, however in our experience, Portsmouth is always incredibly busy – especially around the Port – so we opted for Southampton (which is the only location where Red Funnel operates).

The journey to Southampton was easy and straightforward and we ended up getting there an hour before our departure! Nevertheless, that wasn’t an issue, as the port has a Starbucks on site as well as it’s own cafe, so we sat in there and watched the Ferry come in – much to T’s excitement. When T eventually heard the distinct sound of a ferry horn, notifying that ours was coming into dock, he was gone – almost out the door without a care in the world. He was so excited, and the rainbow funnel on the side of the ferry made it extra special.

Red Funnel Ferry

Giant Rubber Ducks!

I think what hit T the most was the sheer size of the ferry and the logistical conundrum of getting all those heavy cars and lorries onto the boat without it sinking. In the end, we compared it to his toys in the bath, but then it all got confusing when he mentioned that rubber ducks are too heavy and often sink his ship, resulting in a confusing conversation about giant rubber ducks!

When it was our time to board this is when things got really interesting (in case you were wondering, four year olds are not patient beings. The minutes waiting in the queue was hell – especially when other cars and lorries started making their way on before us!). One by one, each car took their turn to board and park up, and as soon as we could get out of our cars T was mesmerised with the sheer about of cars that were on board, not to mention to length of the boat. What I didn’t know what that was well as a fleet of vehicle ferries, it also has ‘Red Jet’ Hi-Speed passenger catamarans!


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When we arrived on deck it was a complete sensory overload. T wanted to sit on one of the “captains seats” (read: comfy chairs. Think nicer airplane seats) but also at a table, but also on the seats at the front that face the front of the boat. Basically, despite the boat being pretty full up by this time we still had our pick of seats! It was actually quite impressive and reassuring that there was at least one space for someone to sit down. On our journey home we even realised there was a ‘dog deck’ upstairs, which was true heaven for T.

T looking out the window from the Red Funnel ferry

When we eventually settled on a seat, Sharon went to get some lunch, as by this time we were pretty hungry. Looking at the menu – which was pretty extensive – Sharon and T opted for hot pastries and a bag of crisps, and I opted for a veggie wrap, but other options included sandwiches, salads, and other cold meals and snacks, as well as a variety of hot meals and toasted sandwiches and paninis. There was also the option to create a kids lunch box. It was also quite reasonably priced. I genuinely expected it to be the same as an on-flight meal (and the same quality!) but it was better. The coffee was also pretty decent too!

Eating Lunch during our Red Funnel journey

When we had finished, the ferry was very much on it’s way. T looked out the window and gazed at all the cars parked up – still amazed at how the ferry was still afloat – but eventually, as soon as he spotted the exit, he wanted to take a walk outside. By this time, the weather wasn’t great. It had started to rain and at sea it was incredibly windy, but the captain had said that it was still safe to go out so we braved it and took him outside.

As expected, our tour didn’t last long as it was VERY windy, but T was glad to have experienced it and didn’t argue about going back inside. It came as no surprise, on our journey home, that when we jokingly offered whether T wanted to go outside again (the weather was even worse on the way home) he opted for a game of Uno.

It wasn’t long before we were coming into the Isle of Wight and being notified to return to our cars. T was excited to get going, but also wanted to stay on board a bit longer. There was just something really exciting about traveling on the open sea that he seemed to enjoy – especially knowing that we also had our car with us. He also couldn’t quite get his head around how so many things – from chairs and coffee machines – and people could fit on one boat.

Year Round Service

Travelling with Red Funnel certainly got our holiday off to the right start as the journey was really pleasant. The facilities were exceptional and the staff on board were professional, making the experience a lot easier. I for one don’t often like public transport, but I couldn’t complain about our journey one bit. There’s plenty of room for people and animals, and you don’t have to worry about things like them running out of food (again, like you do on a plane!) which often adds to the stress if you only eat certain foods.

If we return to the Isle of Wight we would absolutely travel with Red Funnel again. Red Funnel is actually the original Isle of Wight ferry operator, and has been since 1861 and operates a year-round service to the Isle of Wight from Southampton. It just made sense to book with them, especially as our accommodation was also round the corner from the ferry terminal.

We were offered complimentary travel to and from the Isle of Wight in exchange for an honest review and social media coverage during our journey, however all thoughts, opinions, and photography is our own.

Red Funnel also offers a wide range of year-round ferry inclusive holidays and short breaks to suit all tastes and budgets. To book and check current prices, visit or call 02380 248500.


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