Alcatraz Cruises Information & Ferry Departure Times
It is the most sought-after tour in San Francisco, an activity unique to the City by the Bay and one that will make you glad that you can get on a boat to return to the mainland rather than be stuck on it like so many prisoners of the past.
But don’t do like I did my first time and get stuck at the dock because you did not know this one very important thing about taking the Alcatraz tour.
First of all, there’s only one boat that goes to Alcatraz and it’s Alcatraz Cruises. There are other sightseeing boats but this is the only one that does the Alcatraz tours. You catch it at Pier 33, which is just down from Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
That’s your “tip before the tip.” And now here’s the big tip: you must get your tickets in advance because this tour sells out on a regular basis.
And not just advance as in earlier that day or the previous day, but at least a week – and preferably a month – ahead of time.
I know this from personal experience. I tend to be more of a casual traveler who likes to do things spontaneously rather than planning everything in advance. You can’t do that with Alcatraz, as I learned when I walked up and saw a sign that said “next available tours” with a date a week from that day’s date.
Arggg! No Alcatraz for me that visit to San Francisco.
Thinking maybe there was some sort of rush happening the time I was there, I later checked with the Alcatraz Cruises PR people and they told me that’s always the case.
While it’s certainly not required, it is highly advised if you want to go to Alcatraz, then buy your tickets online at least a week in advance. And even then you may not be able to get the time you want. So I actually recommend doing it a month ahead of time.
If you want to go on the night tour, book your tickets three months in advance. You can book tickets for all tours 90 days in advance.
If you are unable to do this, or get a sudden “hey let’s go to Alcatraz” inspiration, your best bet is to take the first ferry, which Alcatraz Cruises calls the “Early Bird Tour.” It departs at 8:45 a.m.
The price to go to Alcatraz is $39.90, and it’s $47.30 for the night tour.
Times of the tours vary slightly by season but here is a general schedule of departures. You can stay on Alcatraz as long as you like and simply take any departing ferry.
Alcatraz Cruises San Francisco Departure Times
Early Bird Tour: 8:45 AM, Day Tour: 9:10 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:05 PM, 1:35 PM, Night Tour: 3:50 PM and 4:45 PM. Return times: Early Bird/Day Tour: 9:30 AM, 9:50 AM, 10:25 AM, 10:55 AM, 11:25 AM, 11:55 AM, 12:25 PM, 12:55 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:00 PM, 2:35 PM, 3:05 PM, 3:45 PM, 4:25 PM, Night Tour: 6:40 PM and 7:40 PM. Spring/Summer ferry schedule (March 13, 2018 – November 5, 2018): Departure times: Early Bird Tour: 8:45 AM, Day Tour: 9:10 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:00 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:10 PM, 2:40 PM, 3:20 PM, 3:50 PM, Night Tour: 5:55 PM, and 6:30 PM. Return times: Early Bird/Day Tour: 9:30 AM, 9:55 AM, 10:25 AM, 10:55 AM, 11:25 AM, 11:55 AM, 12:25 PM, 12:55 PM, 1:25 Pm, 1:55 PM, 2:35 PM, 3:10 PM, 3:45 PM, 4:15 PM, 4:45 PM, 5:15 PM, 5:55 PM, 6:30 PM, Night Tour: 8:40 PM and 9:25 PM.