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Red Funnel to invest £2.2m following a record breaking summer

Red Funnel Isle of Wight Ferries is to invest £2.2million in a major refurbishment of the interior of a second ro-pax ferry, MV Red Osprey which operates between the UK Port of Southampton and East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

The investment follows a record breaking year for the company with traffic levels up 15% over the main summer holiday period. This growth has seen Red Funnel’s Southampton-East Cowes route overtake Portsmouth-Fishbourne as the most popular cross-Solent route for vehicles.*

The company’s success has been due in part to the major refurbishment and upgrade of the passenger accommodation on MV Red Falcon which returned to service in April 2014 and immediately set the standard for cross-Solent travel. Red Funnel is also benefitting from the repositioning of the Isle of Wight as an all season destination for active couples and families, a strategy which has seen the value of the Island’s tourism economy grow by 6% in the past 12 months.** The company is also reaping the rewards from its ongoing investment in customer service which earned it a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and year-to-date customer satisfaction levels of 91%.***

The new look planned for Red Osprey will almost be identical to the refurbishment carried out on Red Falcon although the design will incorporate some minor changes following operational experience and customer feedback.

Kevin George, CEO commented: “We are delighted to announce this new tranche of investment following such positive feedback received from the customers who have travelled on Red Falcon since April. The traffic figures for this year are very gratifying in that more and more customers are choosing Red Funnel for great service at competitive prices. The refurbishment of Red Osprey further underpins our commitment to the Isle of Wight as we work with partners and stakeholders to help grow the Island’s economy.

The contract for Red Osprey has been awarded to local marine interior specialist Trimline, supported by other local specialist suppliers. The work is scheduled to start on the ship in the New Year and will all be done in Southampton. The new look Red Osprey will re-enter service in time for Easter 2015.

New look Red Osprey – Key Highlights

– 55% more inside seats
– 2 new brand new lounges, one of which is pet friendly
– Contemporary new interior design, look and feel
– Air-conditioning installed throughout
– New food & beverage menu with free drink refills
– Free high bandwidth Wi-Fi in all passenger areas
– Lift and wheelchair access to the outer promenade deck

Main Passenger (B ) Deck in detail

This deck will be stripped back to its shell and transformed into a modern contemporary travel environment featuring a mix of comfortable airline-style seats with tray backs, dining tables for different size groups and comfortable nested table and chairs for socialising in the bar area . This will give customers a wide choice depending on whether they want to dine, work or stretch out and relax.

TV screens will be fitted throughout with the ability to show live TV, news headlines, travel information and points of interest along the route. Free Wi-Fi is available on this deck and charging points for phones and laptops will be located in the seating areas.

A brand new galley will be fitted to serve a new range of freshly prepared hot and cold food. Red Funnel’s famous English breakfast will remain the signature dish but with a local twist thanks to more locally sourced ingredients.

Customers in need of refreshment will benefit from free tea and coffee refills in ReFuel and two Steam Café Bars will serve a full range of premium coffees, delicious cakes and slices. The stylish new bar will be stocked with premium draft and bottled beers, champagne, wines and spirits and a new onboard shop will sell Isle of Wight gifts, souvenirs and Red Funnel branded merchandise. Customers will also be able to obtain visitor information and make or amend ferry bookings onboard and purchase event and attraction tickets during the crossing.

Upper (A) Deck Lounges in detail

Two bright modern passenger lounges offering panoramic views will be installed on this deck leading out to a promenade deck which is accessible to wheelchair users. Each air conditioned lounge will have its own Steam Cafe Bar serving hot and cold food, free Wi-Fi and 240 volt charging points. Separate toilet facilities will be provided together with lift access. One of the lounges will be designated as pet friendly.
Sun (AA)Deck in detail

Accessible from A Deck, the new fore and aft sun decks will offer unrivalled views of the yachts and ships passing through the Solent. Teak style seating is provided on this deck.


Notes to editors:

*based on the number of vehicles carried 15 June to 9 August 2014. Source: Isle of Wight Council
**From mid July 2013 to mid July 2014 it is estimated that visitors spent £280m whilst on the Isle of Wight, up 6% compared to the previous year. Source Visit Isle of Wight Limited.
**Based on 7,977 Red Funnel customer reviews left on Feefo.com

Further information about the refurbishment of Red Osprey can be found at: -www.redfunnel.co.uk/newlook
Red Falcon refurbishment video: -http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=360aN6MgcKQ

Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820. Based in the UK port of Southampton, Red Funnel carries 2.1m passengers and over 700,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes and 1.1m passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on the Isle of Wight. In addition to ferry travel, Red Funnel is the only cross-Solent operator to offer ferry inclusive bonded holiday accommodation, attraction tickets, festival and event tickets and activity packages. Sub-brands include ‘Red Jet’ (the Hi-Speed passenger only ferry service serving West Cowes) and two food & beverage brands, ‘Steam Coffee Company’ and ‘ReFuel’.

The company is a founder member of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, the Island’s not for profit destination management organisation and Red Funnel sponsors or supports most of the Island’s premier events including Bestival, AAM Cowes Week, Isle of Arts, the Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight Literary Festival, Isle of Wight Newport Jazz Festival, Isle of Wight Walking Festival, Rhythm Tree, JPMAM Round the Island Race, V-Dub Island, Ventnor Fringe Festival and Wolverton Manor Garden Show as well as a range of community and niche interest events.

For further information or images, please contact Carswell Gould
Laura Downton or Amy Grinstead
Tel: 023 8023 8001