Cruise firm plugs island ferry gap as Hythe service restarts

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Anderson Boat Cruises has launched a Lymington-Isle of Wight service

A CRUISE company has stepped into the breach to provide daily ferry crossings between Lymington and the Isle of Wight, while the Hythe ferry service to Southampton resumes tomorrow.

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Yarmouth-based Anderson Boat Cruises, which has provided trips to and from Lymington’s Saturday market for the past three years, announced the island service following a change in government regulations.

This comes two months after Wightlink was forced to stop its ferry sailings for this route as the coronavirus pandemic worsened.

Anderson is deploying its 1962 tripper boat Coral Star – the same one used for the market trips – for the new service which launched today (Thursday). It has pledged to run it seven days a week with four crossings from Lymington and four from Yarmouth, depending on weather.

Spokesperson Jay Smith-Dowse said: “With Wightlink not in operation this has had a disastrous effect on businesses in Yarmouth, so filling the void and being able to link Yarmouth with the mainland again is something we’re very passionate about to help both towns thrive.”

The vessel usually seats 62 passengers, but it will only carry around 40 amid social distancing measures. Booking is essential, face masks must be worn and hand sanitiser is also available on board.

For more information on the Anderson crossings, including times, call 01983 760212.

Wightlink’s Lymington-Yarmouth crossings remain out of action for the time being, with no date yet announced for their resumption. A spokesperson for the cross-Solent firm said it would continue to monitor demand levels while working with Isle of Wight Council and other operators to “keep the island connected”.

“We don’t yet have a confirmed date for reinstating our Lymington-to-Yarmouth route,” the spokesperson explained.

“We are constantly monitoring levels of demand for our services – which very much depends on government travel regulations – and will look to reinstate routes as soon as demand looks sufficient to cover the cost of the services.

“Everyone at Wightlink is keen to see services back to normal but given the substantial financial losses already incurred during the crisis, this needs to be on a sustainable basis.”

The Hythe ferry service to Southampton resumes for the first times since being shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

A temporary timetable has been put in place and to meet social distancing rules there is a 20/40 minute service in peak time and hourly off peak. Masks must be worn in the ship’s cabins.

A statement on its Facebook page said: “We look forward to welcoming you back, and don’t forget bikes are free.”

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