There were several ferry services to Key West. From Miami, there was a new service offered by Fast Cats Thursday through Sunday Departures: This service has apparently been discontinued and the boats are for sale
The Key West Shuttle has in the past operated two boats - one year round from Ft Myers Beach, the M/V Big Cat Express, is 150 feet long, featuring two enclosed cabins, sun deck, Satellite TV, slot machines and full galley and bar and the other in season from Marco River Marina in Marco Island, the M/V Whale Watcher is a 130' Super Cruiser, powered by 5 jet drives it is the fastest trip to Key West. It features two enclosed, air conditioned cabins, sun deck, and full galley and bar. Fares are similar to those of X-Press. Their website is no longer active.
The Key West Ferry's X-Press ferry from Ft. Myers is currently (8-04) offering a price of $99.00. I do not know whether parking in Ft. Myers is free. They operate this primarily as a day trip, but you can also stay overnight in Key West. Reservations are recommended.
Depart Ft Myers Bch
Arrive Key West
Depart Key West
Arrive Ft Myers Bch
Regular Prices Round Trip
Seniors (62) $109.95
Children 12 - 6 yrs $89.95
Children 5 & under Free
One Way Adults $70
Seniors (62) $70
Children 12 - 6 yrs $70
I have not taken these ferries.
A quick and easy way to reach Key West if you happen to be in the Southwest Florida area is to book a passage on board the Key West Express. This ferry service makes the trip between Fort Myers and Key West four times a week (on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday), leaving at 8:30 am and returning at 6:00 pm. It's therefore possible to spend the afternoon in Key West and return home in the evening (although I'd really recommend spending at least a couple nights on the island). The high-speed camaran ride takes a little less than 4h and is quite enjoyable - you can get drinks and snacks on board, watch movies, and ride outside on the upperdeck (but bring some warm clothes because it can be quite chilly up there, even on really warm days). Round-trip tickets cost $134, and reservations are mandatory.
Key West Express has ferry service between Miami, and Key West. The jet propelled catamaran leaves daily Miami from docks at the Miami Seaquarium at 8:30AM. The return trip from Key West leaves at 5:30PM. One way trip is four hours and costs $48.00 for adults.
There is free parking. It makes for a very nice day trip, or even an over night trip.
Great way to get to Key West from Ft. Myers, Florida. The boat is large and comfortable. Food and drinks are available on board. The trip takes a little less than four hours. My friend and I got a promotional rate for about $100.00 round trip per person. You most likely won't need a car in Key West but if you do, taxis seem to be plentiful and prompt.
I recently had the opportunity to take the Key West Express from Miami to Key West last saturday 12/22/07. The winds were light and the ride was smooth. I turned on my handheld GPS and found the boat was traveling at 34-35 knots or roughly 40 mph. At $51.00 only a small amount more than the bus, this is the way to travel. The ferry has three decks indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of room to move around and stretch your legs. There is a full cash galley and bar. The boat is certified for 377 passengers, however, I estimated there were hardly more than fifty on this saturday. Unlike the bus there is only one trip a day each way. We left Miami at 10 AM and arrived promptly at 2 PM. And presently they only run Friday, Sat. and Sunday. The boat burns a monstorous amount of fuel and I'm sure they need more than the small group they had aboard to offset the fuel costs. Take the boat and keep them operating!
A lot of people ask about the ferry from Ft Myers to Key West, so here it goes...
Xpress to Key West runs high speed ferry service to Key West from both Ft Myers Beach and Marco Island. Costs about $120.00 USD round trip.
The boats are pretty big and carry, I'm thinking, around 80 - 100 people. There is food and a bar on board. Some of the ships also have slot machines and show movies. How comfortable the trip is depends mostly on sea conditions
The trip takes about 4 hours or so. Its good to be in Key West without having a car to worry about.
The boat leaves Ft Myers at 9 am and arrives around 1 pm. If you want to go back the same day, the boat leaves for the return trip around 6 pm, arriving at around 10.
Note that the Key West marine passenger terminal is actually attached to the Hilton hotel in Key West. Thus, when you disembark from your ship, you are actually on Hitlon property.
If your cruise ends in Key West, and you don't feel like walking far to your hotel - consider staying at the Hilton. It's probably very expensive, but if you don't want to walk...
This picture was taken right from the terminal docks at the back of the Hitlon.
The water taxi takes people to and from boats at anchor or on a mooring.
Liveaboards Arno & Naja Girard run a bright yellow water taxi called "MAGIC PENNY" (a restored navy longboat). $5 summer of 2002. 7 days per week, from about 7am to 11pm. Give rides to and from the boats, and will also deliver packages for reasonable fees. Arno also fixes about anything on boats.
An article on the water taxi was in Atlantic Coast Boating Magazine. This article said that they have a large boat on which they rent out berths. They were ferrying their guests back and forth anyway, and figured they might as well take other folks too.
They also have a cell phone, but I haven't been able to find the number.
For me, the best way to get to Key West is by car. I have flown in and it is beautiful, but a car affords more freedom to truly get to know the keys on the way down. Lots of people also arrive via cruise ship.
Some people prefer to come via cruise ship. This can inhibit you ability to get a good sunset shot. The cruise ships dock right at Mallory Square, where the Sunset Celebration takes place.