I had the pleasure of riding The Cross-Bay Ferry this past weekend from Downtown Tampa to Downtown St. Petersburg. It is perhaps the most innovative transportation solution I have witnessed in the Tampa Bay area and much needed.
The price is fair at $8 one-way for adults ($5 with student ID, military ID, or seniors) and the time of the actual trip is efficient as well, easily beating the amount of travel time you would drive from Tampa to St. Pete (probably even better if consider daily traffic on I-275 and I-4). You can also avoid costly hourly parking rates on both sides of the bay at the same time, especially when there are festivals and sports games.
The initial trip was a little confusing because we had to locate the departure point which is behind the outdoor bar area at The Florida Aquarium in Channelside (there was a sign outside the Aquarium that helped us locate it).
I think the website could better explain where you’re departing and arriving from and maybe include that information with your receipt/boarding pass.
Once we were on our way it was great though. There was plenty of comfortable seating available on-board and the outdoor deck was breathtaking.
The Cross-Bay Ferry is equivalent to a ferry you might board in a big city like San Francisco to get to Sausalito for a fraction of the price. I would hope that it can grow its use in the future and become a standard part of the Tampa Bay Area.
You get all the views of beautiful Tampa Bay for a great price and can get to the walk-able Downtown St. Petersburg easily. We saw Beer Can Island, The Manatee Viewing Center, skylines of Tampa and St. Petersburg, dolphins, birds, and more. The overall travel time was a little over 30 minutes with about 50 minutes total for boarding and disembarking.
A cool touch to add for the future would be a captain or recording narrating the trip across the Tampa Bay area – pointing out key landmarks. It might be something that tourism bureaus on both sides might consider adding for tourists, even if its just one of those headphones you can listen to like at a museum. I knew most of the landmarks as a local and was pointing them out to friends myself.
Parking in Downtown Tampa is FREE on the weekends and there are several options in Ybor City for parking as well. Here are some tips for parking in Downtown St. Pete as well.
Food and beverages are available for purchase on the Cross-Bay Ferry as well like most ferry ships including alcoholic beverages for those of age.
I highly recommend riding the Cross-Bay Ferry and cannot wait to ride it again. Transportation solutions like this are what Tampa Bay needs to grow the region and make it a better place to live and visit.
- Service animals are allowed on-board, otherwise a case-by-case basis for pets
- Strollers can be accommodated with no additional fee
- Restrooms are available on-board
- No smoking is allowed
- Luggage on-board is limited to 2 suitcases and 1 small personal item
- The Cross-Bay Ferry runs 7 days a week except some holidays