TO CROSS the Solent on Christmas Day, you'll have to choose Red Funnel.

The ferry operator is the only one operating from the Isle of Wight on Christmas Day, with Red Falcon departing East Cowes at 10.30am and 1.30pm and departing Southampton at 9am and 12 noon.

Fran Collins, Red Funnel chief executive, said: "I don't think any other ferry operator does Christmas better than Red Funnel. We are the only cross-Solent vehicle ferry company operating on Christmas Day and we always have a few surprises on board, and it's a tradition we're really proud of.

"We take our role as the connection between the Island and mainland very seriously, so I guess you could say it's just not in our DNA not to sail on Christmas.

"I think that level of service is just another shining example of the magic that is Red Funnel and it's a testament to our hardworking staff and crew.

"I could not be prouder, and I am truly looking forward to my first Christmas with this incredible team."

Red Funnel has also added 18 extra daily crossings — nine each way — on its Hi-Speed foot passenger Red Jet service between Cowes and Southampton on every Sunday in December.

This gives Island residents more chance to take advantage of the Christmas shopping and festive events in Southampton, Winchester, London and beyond.

Red Funnel's on-board menu will also feature festive items throughout December, including warm drinks infused with gingerbread, mint and fudge.

Passengers treating themselves to a Signature Lounge upgrade between now and January 6 will also receive a free glass of fizz on arrival and a festive mince pie.

Among the festive highlights across the water are the big name stores at Westquay, Southampton's Christmas market, ice skating at Westquay Esplanade, panto at the Mayflower Theatre and Billionaire Boy at the Nuffield Southampton Theatres.