Key West Express provides travelers with an interesting and convenient way of getting to and from Key West. Instead of flying or driving, you hop aboard one of three modern catamarans that the Key West Express company employs. These catamarans include the 140-foot Atlanticat Catamaran, the 155-foot Big Cat Catamaran, and the 170-foot Key West Express Catamaran. Each vessel is well-equipped, featuring such standard amenities as enclosed cabins with air conditioning, outdoor sun decks, a full galley and bar, and large flat screen TVs with satellite. Trip time is just a few hours, and thanks in part to the onboard amenities, getting there is half the fun.
As a side note, you can bring bicycles and common household pets aboard the Key West Express catamarans for an added fee. This is based on availability. If you are bringing a bike, make sure you also bring your own tie downs, as bicycles are stored outside the passenger cabins on the open decks. All pets must be contained in their passenger-provided carriers or crates at all times.
Express Ferry Routes
The Key West Express ferries travel between two main routes. Some link Key West to Fort Meyers, and others to Marco Island. Both Fort Meyers and Marco Island are found on the lower west coast of mainland Florida and provide numerous lodging options if you need to stay overnight near the terminal. Whether you are taking a Key West Express catamaran from Key West to mainland Florida or vice-versa, you can expect the journey to take approximately three and a half hours. The company advises that weather and marine conditions or other unforeseen circumstances can influence the duration of travel.
Express Ferry Terminal
The Key West arrival point for Key West Express is at the City Bight Ferry Terminal – Historic Seaport. Transportation is available to downtown, or you can walk since it’s just a short distance. In Fort Meyers, you can find the Key West Express terminal at 1200 Main Street. The terminal in Marco Island is located at the Marco River Marina and has an address of 951 Bald Eagle Drive. Outdoor parking is available at or near the Fort Meyers and Marco Island terminals. A daily fee applies for the Fort Meyers parking lot, while the Marco Island parking is free. Key West passengers are advised to arrive at their terminal of choice at least an hour before scheduled departure. The last call for all passengers to be on board the ships is 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure.
Hotels Near Ferry Terminal
Whether you need a place to stay near the ferry terminal in Key West, Fort Meyers, or Marco Island, you should have little trouble finding something that suits your needs. Since the terminal in Key West is set on the northern edge of the downtown area, there are any number of Key West hotels that are close by. Examples include the Knowles House, the Westwinds Inn, the Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, and the Ocean Key Resort and Spa. In Fort Meyers, a string of hotels in the Fort Meyers Beach area are within easy reach of the ferry terminal, and since Marco Island is so small, basically all of the Marco Island hotels are just a short trip from the terminal. This includes the very enticing Marco Island beach hotels.
Top image: KWExpress (flickr)