SINGLE crossings costing £118 and returns at £180 have left Wightlink car ferry customers furious.

Additionally, the inability to book via a Multilink pass, due to lack of capacity for the discounted fares, has added to the frustration on the Fishbourne to Portsmouth route.

Regular cross-Solent traveller David Manwaring, of Newport, said: "We have the feeling of being ‘trapped’ on the Island by Wightlink's seemingly arbitrary application of rates and the continuing sense that service is of little interest over profit.

"It is a business, not a service, and we need a service. We Multilink passengers are their bread and butter off-season, but during the summer, we can barely use it.

"We have a Multilink pass which we paid for before lockdown and the cost of which Wightlink has enjoyed ever since.

"But, when I tried to use this for a return at 5pm last Friday evening there was a complete ‘wall’ of not available throughout the day. Nothing.

"I then tried to book without the pass and 'surprise surprise' a crossing was available at 5pm, but for £118. A single, one-way only crossing of three miles of water.

"It’s not the first time this has happened to us, and a friend was recently charged £108, also for a one-way crossing."

A spokesperson for Wightlink explained: "Wightlink reserves at least 15 per cent of vehicle space on board every sailing for Multilink pass holders. Crossings at quieter times have more space allocated for them.

"Weekend sailings, especially in mid-summer, are in high demand and the available space for Multilink pass holders is often reserved quickly.

"We are sorry this customer could not use his Multilink pass to secure its fixed price for the 5pm crossing from Portsmouth.

"Many people wanted to get to the Island at this time, following the relaxation of Government travel restrictions, and all spaces for pass holders had been filled.

"All Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferries that day departed at full capacity between 8am and 10pm.

"Wightlink’s pricing has not increased since lockdown began at the end of March.

"We will refund in full any Multilink pass journeys unused because of the pandemic, or extend the expiry dates if the customer prefers."

County Press reader Anthony Jones said: "As somebody who lives on the mainland but loves visiting and spending money on the Island, it's so sad to see what's happening with the ferries.

"We want to support the Island's tourism and economy and found a great four-night break later this month. This would mean we would eat out three meals a day for five days, and spend money in the shops.

"However, I looked on Wightlink to book the car ferry and it was almost £180 return.

"It's actually cheaper for the three of us to fly to Spain on Ryanair on the same dates or take a return ferry to France.

"Needless to say, we are now not going to be on the Island.

"It's really sad that the Island has so much to offer and ferries are allowed to charge these insane prices."