Have you heard about the about the possibility of a ferry service from Tampa Florida to Cancun Mexico. Well if you haven’t we’d like to be the first to tell you about it. Since November 2011, there has been talk and it appears that things might come together for this service to start this summer.
According to Bruce Nierenberg, the CEO of United Caribbean Lines, the ferry service would be similar to services between ports in the Mediterranean, and would carry approximately 1,000 to 2,000 passengers and 500 vehicles.
Nierenberg expects to run two round trips weekly to Tampa, with a cost of $350 for a round trip crossing in a cabin with meals included.
The idea of a US-to-Mexico ferry service is not new. In 2003, a ferry service affectionally called the “Yucatan Express” ran for one winter season, eventually closing down due to lack of passengers. Business picked up significantly towards the end of the season, but the owners still chose to close down the operation, having invested and lost $5 million USD in the venture.
Will it happen again? Who knows. Significant barriers stand in the way. For one, Tampa’s port director, Richard Wainio, has said that the service would require the Tampa port to construct ramps for cars and additional fenced areas for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to check vehicles and cargo. That total cost to the port could be $1 million USD.
On the other hand, would it be great to have such a service? Absolutely. As Cozumel island dwellers, having the ability to get off the island and to take our US-plated car to the US, whether for tourist or business reasons, via a 36-hr 27-hr ferry would be fantastic.
As vacation rental managers, we have also noticed a significant increase in 2011 in the number of Americans and Canadians coming to the island for 3-6 month periods. 25% of these temporary dwellers travel over land by car. Would they appreciate having the option of skipping that 3-4 day trip through Mexico and arriving in the Cancun area directly? We’re sure many of them would, and that having that option would attract even more temporary visitors to Cozumel, and the surrounding areas.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed!