New Ferry from Tampa, Florida, to the Yucatan?

May 3, 2012 by

Travel Tips

Head from one beach to another

Head from one beach to another

With oil prices (and airfare) soaring, it looks like an old idea is about to be made new again. The massive deep-water port at Tampa, Florida, one of the USA’s most important cruise ship terminals, may soon offer another outstanding service set to improve the lives of North American travelers, tourists, expats, and retirees in Cancun and around the Yucatan Peninsula.

Once upon a time, Tampa was the top terminal for ferries headed to Mexico and Cuba (incidentally, as the Obama Administration continues to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba, in place since 1962, Tampa may also be the main port of call for ferries and cruises between Florida and the forbidden island). As recently as 2003, a ferry service called the Yucatan Express offered a 36-hour connection between Tampa and the Port of Morelos, just south of Cancun. Unfortunately, that operation only lasted a single season. Though passenger bookings picked up at the end of its abbreviated run, the service lost around US$5 million in a single year, sinking the company.

Fast forward almost a decade: Oil prices have quadrupled and airfare doubled, not including various taxes and fees that can nickel and dime your tickets into the stratosphere. Long-time cruise entrepreneur Bruce Nierenberg, current CEO of United Caribbean Lines, who has worked with Premier Cruises Holland America, Walt Disney, and other major players in the industry, sees an opportunity whose time has finally come.

Nierenberg hopes to offer two weekly ferries from Tampa to a yet-to-be-announced port in the Yucatan (probably Morelos or Progreso) with service for up to 1500 passengers and 600 cars. Travel time will be about 30 hours. The cost per passenger will probably be around US$350, including cabin and meals; the fee for transporting a car has not yet been announced.

Nierenberg hopes to create a network of ferries throughout the Caribbean, with cruise stops in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other popular destinations. This is especially good news for the increasing numbers of US expats retiring to Cancun, Merida, and around the Yucatan, particularly considering huge new baggage fees levied by airlines.

Nothing has been confirmed, but if you think you might be interested in taking a Tampa-Yucatan ferry, Yucatan Living and have provided a link to tamarainprogreso [at] gmail [dot] com, and nine simple questions you can answer in an email, detailing how you might use the service—tourism, cargo, pets, vehicles, and so on. With millions of dollars on the line, this will help investors decide whether or not offering such an awesome service will be worth the risk. Let them know that it is!



19 Responses to “New Ferry from Tampa, Florida, to the Yucatan?”

  1. constance Says:

    Best idea since tortilla soup!


  2. Darlene Says:



  3. Orah Says:

    Let me know the start-up date. Interested in getting on that ferry along with my car etc.


  4. kathy Says:

    let’s get going on this. I think a lot of people would use it.


  5. Bernice Says:

    Yes we need this ferry, We go to pto morelos twice a year, and I will be using the ferry,
    and I want to take my car and my 2 dogs with me.


  6. michael zelenka Says:

    please start the ferry.


  7. cathy Says:

    we need this. My family is 4 hr from tampa and i will be moving to mexico in the next 3 mo. my family and i would use this at least 6 times a year.


  8. JD Purcell Says:

    Planning a trip in a motorhome with trailer with archaeological equipment, from Tampa to the Yucatan soon. Certainly need the Ferry!!!!!!!!!


  9. Ruth Philbrook Says:

    We are planning to go twice per year to Playa del Carmen,with our two dogs, this ferry will be great for us.


  10. Tom Says:

    We need to go back and forth at least 2x per year, more if possible and we have dogs. And I hate airline fees so this is for us !!! let’s do it. Vamanos !


  11. Charlie Collins Says:

    Planning to spend time in Belize. Would definitly use the ferry for myself, spouse and car, probably a couple of times a year at least. We need this ferry service!


  12. Maria Aviles Says:

    Please let me know when this cruises are going to take off from Tampa to Progreso???I am ready to cruise with my family and be able to take my car..waiting on your respond:::Maria


  13. Jane Hernandez Says:

    I really need this service for car travel with my cats between Cancun and a US destination! Please make it available to all of us ex-pats!


  14. Peter Says:

    Definitely would be nice want to get to Belize with a truck on board, via Mexico


  15. pete self Says:

    i would use this service with my car


  16. rcj Says:

    I hope they do start a ferry service. I’d love to drive the fla and take my camper on the ferry to cozumel for a camping trip.


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