Trips & Trends

Day Trip From Fort Lauderdale Ferries Passengers To Bahamas

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Trips & Trends


Courtesy: Balearia Bahamas Express

By Laura Lippstone

How about a change of country the next time you’re headed to Florida?  It’s possible to take a day trip to the Bahamas by ferry.  In some cases, less than it would cost to fly.

The high-speed “Balearia Bahamas Express” travels from Fort Lauderdale to the city of Freeport on Grand Bahama, one of many Bahamian islands with British roots. It’s roughly the distance from Philadelphia to New York.

Prepare for a long day. Because international travel is involved, passengers are advised to be at the Fort Lauderdale ferry terminal early morning, returning to the U.S. late at night.

The ferry resembles a mini-cruise ship with far-fewer frills. First class offers more room and movies. Economy-class entertainment consists of ocean views and browsing at the duty-free shop. The company says slot machines and WiFi may be down the road.

The Gulf Stream – the powerful current between Florida and the Bahamas — can make the 2 and 1/2 hour ride a bit choppy.

Once in Freeport, here’s some of what you can see in an afternoon.

Lucaya Beach (named for the original Bahamas inhabitants), in the Freeport suburbs, is easy to get to via the many vans waiting at the ferry terminal. Share the cost with others, and spend approximately $5 one way. (U.S. currency is readily accepted at the same exchange rate.)

The beach — more like Florida during Spring Break than another country — is pretty, though packed with tourists on a spring weekday. Away from the crowd, there are pretty stretches of sand and deliciously warm water.

The Port Lucaya Marketplace offers baubles for every budget. An even-less-expensive souvenir: having your hair braided. If you’ve never done it, it’s a kick.

Food at Lucaya ranges from Domino’s pizza to Agave, an eatery that serves tasty burgers made from conch, a local shellfish.

Unlike Nassau, the busy capital of the Bahamas, downtown Freeport is little more than a bunch of strip malls and a charming little open-air market.

Western Bakery came highly recommended by a local on the ferry. A dense, raspberry-filled cupcake really hit the spot.

Back to Fort Lauderdale and a U.S. immigration line. Everyone was tired; if it felt like we had really been away from home, it’s because we had.



Before You Go:

— You’ll need a valid U.S. passport.

— If going for just the day, it’s possible to squeeze in some snorkeling and other water activities. But leave plenty of time to get from and to the ferry.

— Cellphone service in the Bahamas is charged at an international rate.

— Don’t forget to pack an electric plug adapter for your laptop, tablet or phone charger.

— If you have a few days to explore Grand Bahama Island, the ferry, even at last-minute prices, may be cheaper than flying, which can be more than $200 round-trip. Children under 6 ride free on the ferry.

Click here for more information on the ferry and vacation packages.


Laura Lippstone is a journalist and travel blogger always in search of the unique.

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Post a Comment

would you tel me how much it is to go to Bahames on sep 29 I am over 55 years old.Thanks

Posted by: Mo | September 16, 2013 at 12:10 am

Best thing to do is connect directly with the ferry company online for rates:

Posted by: Valarie D'Elia | September 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Just want to know how often this trip runs and is this the only ferry that goes to the islnd.

Posted by: Linda | October 18, 2013 at 9:39 am

Please call the ferry company directly.

Posted by: Valarie D'Elia | October 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Do you know how to get a job on the Balearia Ferry Express out of Ftlauderdale? Thank you.

Posted by: kathy raines | August 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

You will have to contact the company directly.

Posted by: Valarie D'Elia | August 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm

When making reservations it asks how many bins. what are bins?

Posted by: Rhonda Hill | October 9, 2015 at 5:44 pm

That is part of their cargo services, where you can rent a container or bin for shipping big items like appliances & such.

Posted by: Valarie D'Elia | October 9, 2015 at 6:34 pm

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