Isle of Wight is England's largest and 2nd-most populous island. It is located in the English Channel, approx 6 km (4 ml) off Hampshire's coast (mainland England). Wight Island has total area approx 384 km2 (148 ml2) and population around 140,000.
Isle of Wight has resorts (among England's best holiday vacation destinations) since the Victorian era (1840s). It is popular for its mild climate, verdant landscape, pleasant coastal scenery, good transportation links with mainland England. On Wight Island, Queen Victoria (1819-1901, the UK's monarch between 1837-1901) built her summer residence palace - the Osborne House royal residence (East Cowes).
The island has a well established industrial and maritime tradition including sail making, boat building, manufacturing of flying boats, hovercraft and space rockets. Here are hosted several annual music festivals. The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of Europe's richest quarries for dinosaur fossils.
Island's heritage has for many years supported its tourist economy. Holiday travel vacations themed on natural heritage (including geology and wildlife) are becoming an alternative to the UK's traditional seaside holidays due to their affordability. Wight Island is a major destination for bus tours out of other parts of the UK.
Tourism is island's largest industry and most of its towns and villages have hotels, hostels, camping sites. In 1999, the island was visited by nearly 2,7 million people, of which 1,5 million stayed overnight and the other 1,2 million were day visits. Just around 150,000 of the tourists were foreigners.
Isle of Wight is often visited for cycling or walking tour holidays due to its attractive scenery. The annual walking festival attracts considerable interest. The 113 km (70 ml) long Coastal Path follows island's coastline and deviates onto roads where the route is impassable. The fastest public transport link to mainland England (Southsea) is by hovercraft out of Ryde. Three ferries and 2 catamarans service the island, crossing the Solent Strait to Lymington, Portsmouth and Southampton.
Isle of Wight cruise terminal
Most cruise ships to Wight Island dock (anchor) at Cowes - port town on the central-northern coast.
Some ships may also stop at Ryde - port town on the north-eastern coast. Smaller luxury ships and mega yachts may dock at the pier of Sandown - seaside resort town on the island's southeastern coast.
Sandown is located close to Shanklin (to the south) - both built on the shores of Sandown Bay. The bay is famous with its long golden-sand beach and also with the Sandown Castle (built far into the sea). Among Sandown's other tourist attractions are Diamond Fort and the Granite Fort (at Yaverland), now serving as zoo. Shanklin and Sandown form an urban area with around 22,000 residents.
Port Isle of Wight cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Isle of Wight, Cowes, England. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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