Tampa to Mexico Ferry Steaming Ahead

January 31, 2012

In November, we wrote about the planned Tampa, FL to Mexico ferry service. All indications point to the fact that the ferry service is moving closer to becoming a reality. Por Esto!, the main daily paper in the region, reported today that the permits to add facilities to accommodate an international ferry service in the port of Calica, just south of Playa del Carmen, have been filed. If everything goes well, the article goes on to say, the ferry could be in service early as June/July 2012 in early summer 2014 October 2014 (updated 3/6/14).

Knowing how long these type of projects take in Mexico, a June/July completion date is likely aggressive. But, this is exciting news nonetheless. Each year in Cozumel, we get lots of visitors who make the car trip down the coast of Mexico from the US or Canada. A ferry service that can get these visitors, and their car/pets/belongings, here in 1/2 the time that the overland trip takes, would be oh so convenient.

Not to the mention of course the convenience of being able to travel back to the US/Canada for the thousands of expats who make this region of Mexico home.

Update 3/16/12: The Tampa Bay Business Journal is reporting that the ferry service will be delayed until early 2013. We’ll see if it ever happens now.

Update 5/10/12: We’re on an email update list for news about the ferry. Below is text from the most recent email. It contains some good info about recent developments.

“The past year has not brought a lot of forward momentum with the ferry project in spite of the interest of three different ferry companies and many false start dates.  The scandals which precipitated personnel changes at the Progreso Port Authority certainly didn’t help the situation either, however, things have been happening behind the scenes and from what I understand a number of feasibility studies have been done in the Tampa area showing the ferry project is viable but the inability to do a feasibility study within the expatriate community continues to be a stumbling block especially with investors.

Having learned from the mistakes of the previous ferry services in the area and responses from the previous expat surveys, the original plans have been modified.  Super high speed ferries are now being considered to shorten the crossing time, frequent user plans, and even free vehicle bonuses are being considered.  A year round weekly crossing schedule with frequency based on use patterns and peak seasons will be offered.  As this service will take some years to become profitable investor backing will be the key to success.

The past year has not brought a lot of forward momentum with the ferry project in spite of the interest of three different ferry companies and many false start dates.  The scandals which precipitated personnel changes at the Progreso Port Authority certainly didn’t help the situation either, however, things have been happening behind the scenes and from what I understand a number of feasibility studies have been done in the Tampa area showing the ferry project is viable but the inability to do a feasibility study within the expatriate community continues to be a stumbling block especially with investors.

Having learned from the mistakes of the previous ferry services in the area and responses from the previous expat surveys, the original plans have been modified.  Super high speed ferries are now being considered to shorten the crossing time, frequent user plans, and even free vehicle bonuses are being considered.  A year round weekly crossing schedule with frequency based on use patterns and peak seasons will be offered.  As this service will take some years to become profitable investor backing will be the key to success.

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 lease 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 wont 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.

 

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.

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