One of the things we receive a ton of questions about is the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. It can be a little daunting for a first time visitor to travel to a foreign country where they may not speak the language and have to take a flight, a transfer, and then a boat to their destination. So, we started offering the service of pre-purchasing your ferry tickets when you make your transfer reservation with us. And it has been incredibly popular.
Why is this service so popular? Other than the fact that it’s one less thing to worry about on your arrival, with the increased tourism to Isla Mujeres, we have seen that the lines to buy tickets are often longer than the line to board the ferry! It can be incredibly frustrating to arrive at the ferry loaded down with luggage after a long travel day and then watch the boat leave without you because you had to wait in the ticket line for ten minutes. And now you have another 30 minutes to wait for the next boat (and if after 8:30 PM, an hour to wait). After all, you’re on vacation, who wants to waste any precious time standing in line? Hopefully, we can answer a lot of questions here about the Gran Puerto Juarez Ultramar ferry dock/Isla Mujeres route!
So, the Ultramar ferry is the main ferry transport to the island. It leaves from Gran Puerto Juarez Ultramar ferry dock in Cancun. Also referred to as simply “Gran Puerto”, “Ultramar”, or “Puerto Juarez”. In fact we have two ways to book this on our site under “Isla Mujeres” or “Puerto Juarez”-They are the same exact route.
They have a web page here (that is often down if being honest!): https://www.ultramarferry.com/en
HOURS OF OPERATION
It’s important to note that the ferry does NOT operate 24 hours a day. Here is the time table for the Cancun/Isla Mujeres route. These times remain the same even on holidays:
Gran Puerto Juarez (Cancun) TO Isla Mujeres: Departures every half hour between 5:00 AM-8:30 PM. And then 9:30 PM, 10:30 PM, 11:30 PM
Isla Mujeres TO Gran Puerto Juarez (Cancun): Departures every half hour between 5:30 AM-9:00 PM. And then 10:00 PM, 11:00 PM & 12:00 AM
It’s good to keep these schedules in mind when booking your flights. We do not recommend a departing flight before 9:00 AM as you will need to catch the 5:30 AM ferry from Isla and then drive to the airport, and check in. The recommended time for arrival at the Cancun airport is 2-1/2 hours before your flight departure time. Since all of our transfers are private, we will pick you up whenever you wish but, we ask that you take responsibility for making your flight on time if it is not with our recommended pick up time.
Booking arrival flights can be a little trickier as making the ferry will all depend on how much time you need in immigration, baggage claim, and customs. While some people breeze through their arrival in ten minutes, others can take up to two hours. (Some sound advice is to not book a flight that arrives late at night.) However, should you have any problems and not make the last ferry of the night, never fear, your CARM driver will take you to a hotel in Cancun to spend the night.
(Ultramar often runs an extra boat on Saturday & Sunday at night: From Gran Puerto Juarez TO Isla Mujeres at 12:30 AM and from Isla Mujeres to Gran Puerto Juarez at 1:00 AM. However, if you are planning on taking one of these “extra” boats, we recommend you call Ultramar the day of to double check as we have found these routes to be inconsistent and do not consider them to be part of the schedule.)
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FERRY TICKETS
CARM offers pre-purchase of round trip ferry tickets as an Add-on for $15.00 USD per adult and $8.00 USD per child (we do not offer one way tickets) on arrivals. When you pre-purchase the tickets with us, either our greeter at the airport or your driver will hand you the physical tickets-they are not vouchers. With these tickets, you may bypass the ticket counter at the ferry terminal and go straight to the line to board the ferry!
IMPORTANT: A round trip ferry ticket is actually ONE ticket with a main portion and two perforated portions. When you board the ferry in Cancun, the ticket taker tears off one of the perforated portions and hands it back to you. Hold on to this. (Keep it in a secure place in your wallet where it will not get knocked around as the perforation can easily tear-and this will make your return ticket invalid. They are strict about this, so, take care.) THIS is your return ticket! They will tear off the second perforated portion on your return trip to Cancun.***
Don’t worry, there are no peak or off-peak hours or specific days for your ferry ticket. Your ticket will work on any day, time, and on any boat going to Gran Puerto Juarez Ultramar ferry terminal-They are not stamped for use on specific crossings.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INFANT & KIDS TICKETS
Ultramar offers children’s tickets at a reduced fare. Their guidelines are as follows: Babies up to one year old ride for free. They do check identifications. The rules for children are based on height. You may purchase a ticket at a child rate only when they are under 1 meter 20 centimeters tall (3 feet 9 inches). Again, they more often than not check the height.
THE FERRY TERMINAL AT GRAN PUERTO JUAREZ
The ferry terminal is located approximately 30-40 minutes from the airport. Our driver will let you out inside the terminal and you will find an OXXO (a convenience store like 7-11), a bar, a souvenir shop, public bathrooms, a tour stand, and the ticket office. There are also covered seating areas as well as tables. With your pre-purchased tickets, you can walk right down to the dock and get right in line for the boat.
BOARDING THE BOAT IN CANCUN & MALETEROS
When you arrive at Gran Puerto, a maletero (luggage handler) may approach you and offer to put your luggage on the boat. This is a nice service as it can be a hassle to wrestle your luggage through the line up area and then up the ramp onto the ferry. They are employees of Ultramar, so, it is totally safe to give them your bags. (Of course we recommend you keep your carry on with valuables on your person). They will take your luggage on a cart to put in a pre-boarding area in order to load them first. And you are free to get in line or grab a drink if you have time. The maleteros are working for tips. We recommend starting at 50 pesos or $3.00 USD or more if you have lots of luggage. When it’s time to board the boat, make sure that you go on the back ramp-not the front. The front ramp is for boarding people without luggage. The back ramp is where your maletero will be waiting for you to show you exactly where he put your bags, and this is when you tip him. You have the option to sit inside in the AC or head up the stairs to sit on top of the boat and feel the wind in your hair. The ride across is about 20 minutes. Sometimes they have musicians playing for tips up top too.
When you get in line to board the boat, you will see a little maze of an area to line up. And you will notice that people are holding all sorts of different coloured tickets (locals, seniors, students, tourists all pay different rates, hence the different colours). An ultramar employee may point you to a specific line as some days they have separate lines for locals and tourists. Never fear, if you are unsure of which line to get into, just fall into any.
(Ultramar offers pre-purchase of ferry tickets as well. However, when you pre-purchase from Ultramar, you print out a voucher, and then have to stand in the ticket line with everyone else in order to exchange your voucher for actual tickets, so, it defeats the purpose of pre-purchase!)
WHY CAN’T CARM TAKE ME TO MY HOTEL ON ISLA?
Unfortunately, no private transportation companies are allowed to operate on Isla Mujeres. This is because they have a very strong taxi union on the island. But, the good news is that once you de-board the ferry on Isla Mujeres, you have two options:
1-Maleteros on tricycles will be happy to load up your luggage and walk you to your hotel if you are staying close by in Centro. Again this is a service for tips, and we recommend starting with 50 pesos and more if you have lots of luggage, or you want them to bring your bags up stairs etc.If you don’t know exactly where your hotel is, don’t worry, just give them your hotle name and follow them.
2-As you exit the ferry terminal simply turn left and the taxi stand is right next door. The rates are posted on the wall. You won’t need an address of your hotel-they are almost all known by name alone. But, you are staying in a lesser known rental home, you will most likely have been provided instructions with what to tell a taxi driver. Proper addresses with street numbers will rarely help you on Isla Mujeres. Locations are noted by genarlities and landmarks-(Such as the corner of x street, near the x store.)
THE FERRY TERMINAL ON ISLA MUJERES
The ferry terminal on Isla Mujeres is located on one of the main streets of Centro, Rueda Medina. In the terminal itself, there are some restaurants, a bar, some shops, an ATM, public bathrooms, indoor seating area, and ticket counters. Exiting the terminal you will find shops, banks, restaurants, golf cart rentals within steps. The terminal is also walking distance to most hotels that are located in Centro.
RETURNING FROM THE ISLA MUJERES TERMINAL
You will have received a confirmation voucher from CARM telling you which ferry to board leaving Isla Mujeres. And then a pick up time at Gran Puerto Juarez Ultramar ferry dock in Cancun (which shows as 20 minutes after your ferry boarding time). You have your saved tickets tub from your arrival as your return ticket, so again you just bypass the ticket office and get in line to board the boat. Be sure you are getting in line to board the boat for Gran Puerto Juarez-there are signs. We recommend arriving at the ferry thirty minutes before it departs. Again, some days the ferry is incredibly busy, and others not as much. Your CARM driver will meet you right where he dropped you off in the terminal at Gran Puerto Juarez.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you have any other questions, please let us know!