Tampa to Cancun Area Ferry Service Coming in October 2014?

December 14, 2014

A few different Mexico and US newspapers are reporting this week that a Tampa, FL to the Cancun area ferry service is slated to be operational in the second half of 2012 early summer 2014 October 2014 (updated 3/6/14). 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 $195 (updated 6/30/14) 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 affectionately 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 30-hr (updated 6/30/14) 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!

Update 1/14/13:

Earlier today, we spoke with Bruce Nierenberg, CEO of United Caribbean Lines. Here’s what he said about the progress of the ferry:

“Project still very much alive. We had hoped to be announcing our start date in specific by now but we have had a few delays. We are still shooting for the last months of 2013 to have the first voyage…”

Bruce went on to say:

“The ex-pats will be our best customers and we intend to make them feel very much at home with the best prices and favorable arrangements to make it an enjoyable and affordable experience.

We will have multiple trip discounts and specials on transporting cars and RV’s as well as specials for family members who are coming to visit ex pats at their Yucatan homes.

We know who our most important customers will be…the ex-pats.”

At least the project is still alive, despite the delayed start date!

Update 3/11/13: 

Earlier today, we received an email from Bruce Nierenberg, CEO of United Caribbean Lines. Here’s what he said about the progress of the ferry:
“Its taken much longer than I had hoped it would as a result of many thing International that are out of my control. But I feel we are getting to the finish line and will be establishing the start date soon.

I know you all plan as far in advance as possible so while I won’t have the start date for awhile let me give you and your friends down there some info as to what they should be planning.

1. The ferry will not start until 2014.
2. It is being targeted for a winter start hopefully by February.

If you all are planning to travel I would not delay any other travel arrangements in any way before these dates… We also will have some special rates and deals for all of you that have been so patient.

You and your friends who live in the Yucatan and Q.R. will be our most important customers and be assured we will treat you all as special guests everyone you sail with us. We will have special rates for all of you that go frequently that will significantly reduce the cost of travel and of course make it safer as well. I know you will all miss going to the airport to be abused!!

Thanks again for being so helpful and patient. Feel free to share this info with you associates in the Yucatan and Q.R.

Update 11/17/13:

Earlier today, we received another update from Bruce Nierenberg, CEO of United Caribbean Lines. Here’s what he said about the progress of the ferry:

We are still chugging ahead on the task of getting this new service up and running. We are still targeting the summer of 2014 October 2014 (updated 3/6/14) for a start date. I am in the middle of the acquisition of ships for our various cruise/ferry services and one of them will be used in the service from Tampa Florida to the Yucatan.

We still plan for the ship to hold a minimum of 1000 passengers and probably closer to 2000. It will carry cars, RV’s, containers and even passenger cargo bins that the seasonal residents of the Yucatan coming from North America can use at a very low lost to bring their larger personal items that will not fit into their personal vehicles. Bedding, furniture, electronics etc. All will be a lot easier now to bring.

So with a little more patience I hope to have some very positive results and announcements to make to all our loyal followers for this new service.

Update 6/30/14:

This morning, we received a ferry update from Bruce Nierenberg, CEO of United Caribbean Lines, the company that is looking to start the Florida to Yucatán route.

“First let me apologize to all of you who have been so patient in waiting for the new ferry service to begin. My partners and I have continued to work towards finalizing the plans for starting the service and have actually come very close to providing a start date. We are still in that stage. I do not have an exact starting date.

I can tell you that from a practical point of view any of you considering holding off in your travel plans this fall in expectation of the ferry starting should make alternative plans.

The earliest the ferry can start will be in the winter of 2015 after the holidays. More likely the start will be in March, April [2016]. We are all meeting next week to determine a more accurate starting date for your use.

Additional facts:

We are still planning to have a combination passenger and car/cargo vessel to use. You will be able to bring your cars and pets. There will be additional accommodations for personal cargo. The voyage will be 30 hours one way. The price will average about $350 round trip including cabin and meals. We will have entertainment and casino operations on the ship.”

If you wish to be added to our VIP information list so that you’ll be the first to know about the ferry when plans are finalized, please leave a comment below.

{ 290 comments… read them below or add one }

Walter Koellner August 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Please add me to mailing list.


marg geneau August 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Let me know when


marg geneau August 5, 2015 at 9:07 am

Let me when and a concact numder


valerie hughes tiger August 8, 2015 at 5:07 pm

pls let me know when this is happen


Bill August 15, 2015 at 4:33 pm

please keep me posted


Linda August 17, 2015 at 10:37 am

Please add me to your update list.


Hector F Vergara August 17, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Please add me to your VIP update list


Penny August 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm

We are waiting! Please move forward and contact me when you are oporational. Thank you.


rose smith August 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Very very interested.please start soon.


C. Castillo August 24, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Looking forward to it.


Ernesto Ramirez August 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Please add me to your list and let me know when you are operating, thank you


Sally Dawn August 24, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Please add me to your mailing, and future passenger, list. Looking forward to when you are operational. Thanks so much!


Roy Magnan August 28, 2015 at 6:30 am

My fiancés son is getting married next year in Cancun, I hate flying and this would be perfect for me….please keep me informed of more details, thanks


Ken insco August 30, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Please add me to the mailing list.


DRM August 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm

I live in the Yucatan, for the past 13 years I have been waiting. With nothing but promises and teasers of another ferry for the Yucatan. A little more than just vague
tidbits would be nice, what are the real problems and hold ups … Mexico or US??
A lot of people in the Yucatan wonder if it will happen in our lifetime. There are more and more people moving here …


Clete Henke September 4, 2015 at 12:18 am

Please add me to the mailing list. Thanks very much!


Linda September 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

Please advise when this ferry run is available. Looking to use this service winter 2016. Please add me to the mailing list. Been waiting for this a long time! What’s the hold up?


Don September 11, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Please add me to the mailing list. Thanks.


Don Moore September 11, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Is there any chance you could be up and running by November? Send me any information you have. Thanks, Don


Johanne Girard September 13, 2015 at 3:59 am

Please add me


Freedom September 13, 2015 at 10:50 am

What is the status now?


Richard September 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm

This would be great. Please let me know of the start of this service. Thanks


Pelu September 16, 2015 at 9:39 am

Just stop the BS,USA, put this in service……….imagine carry on motorcycles and cruise Cancun area. Amazing just do it USA (Tampa Port Authority), stop the bureaucracy.


Sarah September 20, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Please let me know any updates! :-)


Diane September 19, 2015 at 7:14 am

Please add me to your mailing list


Diane September 19, 2015 at 7:15 am

Add me to your mailing list

Thank you


Sarah September 20, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Please let me know any updates! :-)


Eduardo September 22, 2015 at 10:30 am

Estamos esperando desde hace algun tiempo su comienzo. Cuando iniciaran este proyecto ?????? Avisennos. Estamos pendientes. Gracias.


Junior September 24, 2015 at 9:56 am

Hola quisiera saber si ya esta operando el ferry de tampa a yucatan.


Ruben & Mary Morales September 27, 2015 at 8:04 am

Please let us know when this will happen we want to take our car to Cancun over the holidays.

Thank you,

RM Morales


naki corleone September 29, 2015 at 2:50 am

please add to mailing list and advise as to start date.


Joan Dale October 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Please add me to the list to receive updates on this ferry service.



Ghyslain (chris ) Neron October 11, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Hi, I would like to be added to your mailing list, Thank you!


John Massey October 12, 2015 at 7:58 am

Please add me to mailing list. Thanks


Charlotte L.-Thibaudeau October 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

Please add me to your mailing list. My husband and I travel in a 20-foot RV. We went 7 or 8 times to Mexico but I no longer want to drive the long road to go there. A ferry servicce between Tampa and Mexico would be a godsend! I am keeping my fingers crossed!!!


Charlotte October 12, 2015 at 11:32 am

Please add me to your mailing list. My husband and I travel in a 20-foot RV. We went 7 or 8 times to Mexico but I no longer want to drive the long road to go there. A ferry service between Tampa and Mexico would be a godsend and I am keeping my fingers crossed for the project to take flight.


tom October 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm

been waiting and hoping this happens keeps getting pushed back now its almost 2016 are they going to do it or too much red tape. I remember the Yucatan express but that didn’t last long


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