After a summer’s worth of speculation, we finally know what’s up with the Cross-Bay Ferry. On Tuesday, officials from Tampa and St. Petersburg announced that the service — which travels between Tampa and St. Petersburg — will return on November 1, run through April 2019 and utilize the Provincetown III high-speed catamaran design that provides a smooth, comfortable 50-minute ride with “plenty of space outside and wide, comfortable seating inside.” There will be a well-stocked café with coffees, pastries, snacks, wine, beer and cocktails, according to a release, which adds that up to 30 bicycles can fit on the ferry.
The announcement happened near the Florida Aquarium, where the ferry will dock in Tampa. The new docking spot drops and picks up passengers right next to the World War II and Korean war Victory ship already docked behind the aquarium and places riders about a five-minute walk away from the ferry’s previous Tampa home, the Tampa Convention Center, which is undergoing renovations that won’t be ready by the time the Cross-Bay Ferry begins service. Construction on Tampa’s new Sparkman Wharf outdoor food hall is also set to wrap up before the year is out.
The ferry also has a new St. Petersburg home — the Vinoy Basin near the historic Renaissance Vinoy Hotel — since construction of the new pier makes it tough to use the previous dock next to the St. Petersburg History Museum. The St. Pete home puts riders within walking distance of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Dalí and a multitude of Beach Drive dining options.
Tickets to ride will cost adults $8, which is $2 less than during the ferry’s first season two years ago. Kids ages five to 18 ride for just $3, and it’ll cost $5 for seniors, college students, and active or retired members of the military. Children under four years old ride free. The service will run Tuesday through Sunday and include later hours, which may give some passengers the ability have dinner across the bay.
“Tampanians will be able to take a 5:30 p.m. ferry to St. Petersburg, then return home at 10 p.m. Hockey fans from St. Petersburg should be able to catch a 4 p.m. ferry to Tampa and catch a return ferry at 11 p.m.,” officials said in a release (see a full schedule below). According to the Tampa Bay Times, the ferry service is being paid for by the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg and Pinellas and Hillsborough counties — with each agreeing to kick in $150,000 to subsidize the service — plus the Florida Department of Transportation.
“Under terms of the new proposal, the first $200,000 in revenue generated by the ferry will go to the four governments. The next $200,000 will go to [the ferry’s operator], which is based in Seattle. After that, profits would be split evenly between the member governments and [the ferry operator],” wrote the Times. “During the pilot program, HMS reimbursed $120,000 to local governments.”
Sounds like a nice alternative to traffic to us. More info and FAQs are available via thecrossbayferry.com.
STP – 4 p.m. TPA – 5:30 p.m.
STP – 9 p.m. TPA – 10 p.m.
Monday – No service
Tuesday – Thursday Departures
STP – 4:30 p.m. TPA – 5:45 p.m.
STP – 9:15 p.m. TPA – 10:45 p.m.
Friday – Saturday Departures
STP – 10 a.m. TPA – 11:30 p.m.
STP – 1 p.m. TPA – 2:30 p.m.
STP – 4 p.m. TPA – 5:30 p.m.
STP – 10 p.m. TPA – 11 p.m.