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In August 2012, I visited the Isle of Wight on holiday, prompted partly by a desire to explore more of the UK, and partly by a lack of cash! Wanting to experience a hovercraft trip, I chose to reach the island via Greyhound Coaches.
Greyhound Coaches operate coaches to and from various destinations in the United Kingdom. When you buy a ticket to the Isle of Wight, you also get a hovercraft journey to the island included, as well as a day ticket on Southern Vectis buses (although I didn't use this as I was staying in Ryde, where the hovercraft stops). The total journey time from London Victoria Coach Station to Ryde is under three hours. The website states that prices to the Isle of Wight start from £14 (plus 50p booking fee per transaction); mine cost £20 each way as I was travelling during the peak season in August. Still, £40 in total sounded very reasonable to me.
I booked my tickets online with no problems and turned up at Victoria coach station in time for the 11.45 coach on Wednesday, August 1. The coach turned up in plenty of time, and the driver was friendly and pleasant, helping to load my luggage onto the coach and requiring only my booking number to confirm my journey. I was surprised at the lack of passengers on this trip, considering there were only two coaches per day - only about five people got on, with a couple more picked up along the way in Portsmouth.
I was impressed with the coach itself. Outside, it had a dark blue colour scheme which was very attractive, much better than a bright orange or garish white! Inside the coach, the same soothing blue colour scheme had been applied and the cushioned seats were incredibly comfortable. I had plenty of legroom and liked the curtains at the windows which would have helped to block out the sun if there had actually been any. The coach also had free Wi-Fi and power sockets, although I didn't use these.
The journey was very smooth and we arrived at the Hovertravel port at Southsea in plenty of time. My ticket specified a particular hovercraft to catch, but in my experience they let you catch any service. I took advantage of the toilet facilities at the port and hung around in the compact waiting room to await the arrival of the hovercraft.
I was childishly excited about the prospect of travelling by hovercraft and the journey did not disappoint! The hovercraft zoomed out of the sea like some giant marine creature and deflated with a sigh. My luggage and that of my fellow passengers was loaded into the back and I took a seat inside.
The journey only took about ten minutes, with spray hitting the side of the window all along the way. The hovercraft slid onto the sand at Ryde and we disembarked. I collected my luggage and left the Hovertravel building - true to the claim, less than three hours after I'd left London.
My return trip, made the following Tuesday, was equally straightforward and hassle-free. I arrived at London Victoria in good time with no issues at all.
Looking at reviews, it seems that many people have had problems with Greyhound Coaches. This was not my experience, luckily. The whole experience, from booking tickets to actually travelling, was smooth and trouble-free. I was especially impressed with the comfortable and luxurious coaches, particularly given the low price of the tickets. I would definitely use Greyhound Coaches again and I highly recommend them - particularly if you are visiting the Isle of Wight.
If you are interested you can check out the Greyhound website:
Or the Isle of Wight section:
I posted some Hovercraft videos on YouTube if you are interested - I just think these things are amazing!
I used to get a service via Southampton to London regularly and it was pretty good a few years ago but after their initial rising the UK Greyhound service has fallen into the doldrums.
After the initial great experience i decided to use them instead of national express to travel between London and Glasgow but it was terrible, there was no WiFi, Plug Sockets not working and definitely no leg space as advertised. Very poor service!
The i got a connecting bus from London to the Isle fo Wight which was a chartered service - not a greyhound coach, it was an old tour coach and the driver the same also - he knew nothing and was rude to me. When I asked him how the tickets worked on the boat to the island and the bus on the isle of wight he said - "I don't know, I only go to Portsmouth!" Now if i hadn't known the Isle of Wight and the areas then I would have been lost - there was no help and just demeaning looks when I asked further questions.
I emailed the support email just before my phone was dying as i couldn't charge it due to there being no sockets on any coach and five days later have received no reply - terrible service! I will continue to use National express in the future because at least they don't advertise things they can't offer or had no intention to.
I have also reported UK Greyhound to trading standards and the advertising watchdog, i am just so shocked by their service, especially to the isle of wight and the overnight coaches!
Please do not expect what they advertise, you will not get it!
Don't ever try greyhound uk coaches.
My service 16.35 on 28/07/11 from Clarence Pier, Southsea to London Victoria never bothered to turn up and left myself and around 10 other passengers from the Isle of Wight who had made their way by Hovercraft stranded.
It seems they do a lot of sub contracting and I heard later that they often don't bother with the last service.
Of course you can only make contact via email. There is a telephone line for ticket sales only and staff are unable to assist outside this.
So I caught a Hoverbus to the trainstation and train to Waterloo. Just managed to make my Eurostar connection. Stressful.
Of course when following up for refund and to complain about the service you have to by email. After two emails they responded and said they would look into it. A month later and hey presto.......................nothing, not a squeak.
This company makes a big song and dance about being a low cost quality service but the bottom line is they are a shoddy affair who don't really give a monkeys.
My advice - Use National Express
I recently booked my first trip on the greyhound bus service.
I was shocked at the treatment given myself and other passengers.
Accident on the A3 meant to late for using the hover travel.
The bus driver was advised to use the M3 but decided not to, big delay no connecting hover.
For me my parents live on the island so i know the forms of travel to get to the island and the locations. So i was ok in terms of knowing my bearings when the driver who decides to speak with the microphone 1mm away from his mouth making ever word illegible. I did like the bit where the driver had Alex Warner on the speaker phone unaware when the driver said what shall i do about the people going to the isle of wight. Alex turns round and says its says on the website we are not liable. They will have to deal with it. I was prepared, the American tourist with a baby were NOT. Now seriously the microphone talk made no sense, when we arrived at the hard interchange i spoke to the driver briefly as he was trying to get me off the coach as quick as possible saying he explained already. Ok, very bad service. Muttering to go passed the trains and say Alex Warner say your ticket is valid and he will give us all a refund. Now its cold and dark in what looks like a bus station with a train station attached. Hardly the same dropping you off outside for a connecting all in one trip Talk about no help at all, very disgusting treatment from the driver. Well i was first in line and they said no. Then a couple with a baby and another young man came with more info a lot of waiting and we were told totally different company, ticket not valid. We were also told to ring Alex Warner but as you can imagine no answer. So we all had to pay £10.50 for a new ticket for transportation to the island.
Now i understand a accident is a accident. But the driver knew about this 3 minutes after he left Victoria coach station, but still decided to use the A3 instead of the recommended route of the M3.
Alex Warner once contacted said he would refund me the cost of my ticket. This was on the 26th of October. Nothing, so i emailed him and received no response. Only once i sent a email telling him he was being rude and disrespectful did the response come
"I am not obliged to provide reimbursement for delays caused by problems totally beyond our control?"
So remember everyone if you book with greyhound and if a accident, bad weather, absolutely anything which can cause a delay you will be kicked off at the hard interchange. I will promise a refund but in reality read the small print and bugger off.
-- The company --
Greyhound Uk is a relatively new coach service. It started in September 2009, and is based on the US greyhound service. They offer fantastically priced fares, from London Victoria (Victoria coach station) to Portsmouth and Southampton.
-- Booking tickets --
You can book your tickets in four ways, this includes, online through their website. Their website address is: http://www.greyhounduk.com/ .
This is by far the best way to book your ticket, as it enables you to get the cheapest fares. You can book up to an hour in advance, although it is worth booking a few weeks in advance to get the best prices.
You can also walk up and pay on the day, although they do not accept cash, but do accept cards. You can also book by telephone, or through their retail booths, but these are far and few between, and as far as I know, they are only based in Portsmouth, and Southampton at the moment.
All you have to do is bring the print out of the booking confirmation along with you, and show it to the driver. I believe you can also get this texted to you for 10p, so it's very handy if you don't have a printer.
-- Cost --
The cheapest tickets are those brought online at their website, so if you want the best rate, it is best you book as early as possible. You can buy your tickets up to 8 weeks in advance. You can easily get tickets to go to Southampton, or Portsmouth for £1, plus booking fee. The booking fee is 50p which I don't feel is too cheeky. Even if you book to go the next day, the fare is only usually about £7 which is very reasonable, and going by train will be much more.
-- The journey --
The journey from London Victoria to Portsmouth, or Southampton is just under two hours. We've used Greyhound UK a few times, and only once has it taken longer than this and that was just because there was lots of traffic, so it wasn't really their fault. However, most time they do come in under the 2 hours which is great. In Portsmouth they have two drop off / pick up points, 1 was in Portsmouth city center, the other being Portsmouth station, which is right in the bus station which is handy if you need to continue on from there.
There are also a few drop off / pick up points in Southampton.
-- The coaches --
I was really surprised with the coaches, they was really modern, and great looking. They have lovely, comfortable leather seats, which also recline, and have plenty of leg room. So no feeling cramped! Every time I have used Greyhound, there have always been plenty of seats and never overly busy.
Inside the coaches, you are offered free newspapers, which is great to stop you getting bored if you have forgotten something to read!
Also there is a free Wifi service and electricity plugs, so you can even bring your laptop along and have a little surf - which is fab!
-- My recommendation --
I have used these coaches a few times now, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again. It's so much more comfortable, and cheaper than traveling by train, and the fact there is free Wi-fi and newspapers is great. At these prices, I'm sure they can't be beaten - where else can you travel that far for £1.50 these days?