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.

{ 248 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom May 31, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Please put me on the mailing list. Thanks


Lyn May 31, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Please put me on your mailing list. Thank you :)


Jim June 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

Please put me on the mailing list. Thanks


M P June 2, 2015 at 6:57 am

I’d love to know more(especially when they plan on starting this service). Thanks!


Dave June 5, 2015 at 4:22 pm

We are already on the mailing list, but just a question.
We go to Playa del Carmen for 6 months yearly, as we have a condo there. We bring our dog along. If we take the ferry, which we would love to do, can we bring the dog and keep him in our cabin?


Steinar Beddari June 5, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Please do add me to the mailing list, this is of great interest to me. Thanks!


Johnny Gregory June 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

I am very interested in the Florida to Yucatán ferry, hope it will return to service soon….


sandra saunders June 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

please place me on your mailing list for ferry service from mexico to florida.
thank you.


William A H June 12, 2015 at 10:22 pm

Please add us to your mailing list. We travel twice each year (to Belize, actually) and would welcome this service – with car.


Sari Goldman June 13, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Any news when it will start? Will you be having any specials for those of us who have been waiting for years for this to happen?
Sari Goldman


Greg Riou June 14, 2015 at 6:32 am

please keep me updated


Juliano Ma June 15, 2015 at 9:07 am

please add me to the mail ing list


Mare P June 17, 2015 at 8:55 am

Will the Ferry go from Tampa to Cancun or Cozumel or Playa de Carmen? Or where exactly will the ferry doc in Mexico(Yucatan)? Either way, I’m very interested in this service. Please add me to the mailing list. Thank you very much!


Mare P June 17, 2015 at 8:57 am

Also, is the $350 fee per person round trip? Or is the per car? Or is it additional for a car? If you don’t have a car(just traveling as a person) will it still cost $350 round trip per person? If you could please let me know what the fees are, I would really appreciate it.
Thank you very much!


Terry M June 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

Please add me to your mailing list.


JPleasant June 17, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Please add me to the list


norma June 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm

would like to get emails


Manuel Ayala June 20, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Hello! Please add me to the mailing list. Thank you, Manuel Ayala.


Albano June 21, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Would like to know if this will start soon ? I can see this working specially for people that don’t fly. And bringing own vehicle and pets and large items


German June 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

How soon before I can take my car to Progreso, Yucatan,Mexico. When is the car ferry starting to work? Plesae keep me up yo date.


bob June 23, 2015 at 11:19 am

please add me to the mailing list. looking forward to loading my vstrom 1000 on your ferry fter driving form Vancouver, B.C. to Florida………sounds exciting, and what a great way to open up tourism possibilities for people from my area……


Rosalia Hambrecht June 24, 2015 at 4:46 pm

My husband and I are just praying for this ferry to start it’s service…. The drive from NY to Yucatan is getting stressful!!!!
Please keep us on your e mail list and let us know when the ferry starts and how to make reservations…. This is so exciting….
Thank you! Wayne and Rosalia Hambrecht


Linda June 26, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Please add me to your your mailing list


Linda June 26, 2015 at 12:17 pm

like to keep informed of ferry from Tampa to Port Morales as moving to Tulum spring of 2016


debra stepp June 30, 2015 at 11:27 pm

please add me to your mailing list also want info if i can bring our dog


Erick Gibbs July 7, 2015 at 11:25 am

Please add me to the mailing list, thank you.


Margo July 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Please add me to your mailing list as well, thanks.


Jeff Huffaker July 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Looking to be an expat living in the Yucatan and this ferry would be so beneficial for my family and I. please add me to your mailing list


Lair Showalter July 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Please add me to the mailing list! Very interested!


jeff July 13, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Please add me to the mailing list


Nancy Davis July 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

Looking forward to this! Please keep my updated. Thanks


Daniel T July 16, 2015 at 8:50 am

Please keep me posted – would love this passage.


rubin July 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Add me, I was on the first ferry crossing to Mexico with car. Worked out good.


Steve Van Orsow July 18, 2015 at 8:33 am

Please keep me informed re starting date and other info.


Paul Davis July 18, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Please ad me to the mailing list. I would very very interested in taking this ferry to Mexico from Tampa


Paul Davis July 18, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Please add me to your mailing list


Lynne C Byrne July 19, 2015 at 7:45 am

Please put me on your mailing list – thank you


Nora July 20, 2015 at 9:50 am

Please add me to your list too.


Nora July 20, 2015 at 9:54 am

We would love to be notified when the ferry service finally begins.


Erik Matlock July 21, 2015 at 9:45 am

Please add me to your list. Thank you.


Geri Matlock July 21, 2015 at 10:59 am

Please add me to your list. Thank you


Elsie July 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Please send updates


Gary July 22, 2015 at 9:37 pm

What is the latest on the ferry? We have our bags packed and ready for Cancun


Frank Guenther July 27, 2015 at 10:25 am

Sure i would like to on the list to know when you are starting i have been waiting for this service a long time. i also have a lot of canadian friends living in Belize that would appreciate this service to


gmorgan July 28, 2015 at 11:28 am

Please add me to the email list


Bruce July 28, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Please keep me up to date on the progress of this venture. I am looking forward to using this ferry service on a regular basis. I think service from the Houston/Galveston area could also be profitable for you.


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