Bahamas Ferry Express Day Cruises from Florida

Bahamas Ferry Express day cruises to Freeport, Bahamas

Want to play hooky for a day? Only have one vacation day left for the rest of the year? Try a quick one-day getaway to the Bahamas via the new Bahamas Ferry Express from Fort Lauderdale.

ScandinavianSunYears ago, there was the old Scandinavian Sun which cruised back and forth to Freeport, Bahamas from Miami. It was an older ship and moved at turtle speed which meant a midnight arrival into the Port of Miami.  Now there’s a faster way to get to Freeport and return before midnight aboard the high-speed catamaran, Pinar del Rio a.k.a the Bahamas Ferry Express.  The brightly painted ship carries up to 463 passengers and can travel up to 32 knots in smooth seas.

Bahamas Express Fast FerryBahamas Express Pinar del Rio is majority-owned by Spanish shipping company, Baleària, which specializes in fast-ferry routes around the world, primarily in and around Spain connecting to Gibraltar and North Africa.

Here’s the lowdown on taking that quick getaway when you just want to do something different, fun and convenient.  A passport is required if you are 16 or older. Refer to the documentation requirements on the cruise line website for accurate and complete information.

Check-in begins at 7am.  Because of the chance of a traffic backup at the port entrance, the cruise line recommends arriving no later than 8am.  Security gates for the Pinar del Rio close promptly at 9am.

Bahamas Express Fast Ferry loungeFor passage, you can choose between First Class and Economy. First Class passengers have more room, privacy and less hustle and bustle.

Departure from Port Everglades en route to Grand Bahama Island is at 10am.  Two and one-half hours later, cruising at a speed of up to 32 knots, you’ll arrive at Freeport Harbor, Grand Bahama Island.

Once there, you can shop at Freeport, grab a taxi and head for the beach, or even have a lunch at one of the island’s luxury hotels.

Bahamas Express Fast Ferry seatingDon’t lose track of time. Your return cruise leaves Freeport at 7:30pm for its 10pm arrival into Ft. Lauderdale.   Again, as you did just a few hours before, plan to arrive early at Freeport Harbor for customs clearance.  You’ll need to arrive at the port at 4pm for your 7:30pm departure. Gates close at 6:30 sharp. Regardless, you still have close to four hours to relax and explore in the Bahamas and five hours to enjoy being at sea.

Perks abound. You’re still on a cruise and of course there are ways to spend you money onboard.  The Pinar del Rio has a lounge with entertainment, movies and a full service bar. If you didn’t do enough shopping in Freeport, then there is always the onboard gift shop for a last minute souvenir.

Bahamas Express Fast FerrySmoking isn’t allowed anywhere; not onboard or on the cruise line’s premises in Ft. Lauderdale and Freeport.

At the time of this writing, fares for this Bahamian getaway are: Ft. Lauderdale to Freeport – First class $90, Economy $75.  The return fare is First Class $108 and Economy $93.  If your budget is a concern, I’d suggest Economy seating on the outbound and splurge on a First Class ticket for the 10pm return.  There might even be a round-trip special offered from time to time.

You can make your Bahamas Ferry Express reservation online at or call the toll free number listed on their website.

Photo credit: Baleària Shipping, ScandinavianSun


  1. Rohan says

    My wife and i went on Bahamas Express last weekend November 23/2014 and came back and it was our worst experience ever. The
    captain announced that the ride was going to be rough going ,but it was
    not only rough ,it was extremely terrible and so many people on board were sick ,babies, my wife including myself , i will never again waste my
    money & my precious time again like this , what a waste .
    It was Terrible, Terrible Terrible !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Andrea,

    Unfortunately, it seems like there are a lot of negative comments going around. With such a great getaway concept, I hope the good comments soon outweigh the not-so-good ones.
    If you’ve not already done so, I’d contact Groupon and let them know what’s going on. Thanks for reading and leaving your comment.

    Cruise Maven

  3. Andrea says

    I purchased tickets on Groupon AFTER emailing the company and confirming that the dates were okay. I emailed several times giving them the information for the reservations. Each email was answered by a different person and repetitive; however, I complied and resent emails over and over again, Considering this is the ONLY way to reach them, the company is VERY inefficient at answering emails. After 2 days,of asking for confirmation, I finally received an email saying that they could not accept the Groupon because they had reached their limits for that day. But if I wanted to buy a tickets through them, they could still accommodate me… WHAT?????

  4. Sherry Laskin says

    My best advice would be to contact the cruise line directly. I know in the past, when operations began, there were delays at both ends. Hopefully, that is all resolved now.


  5. Jeff says

    There is NO way you can enjoy yourself in the Bahamas on a day trip!! Do yourself the favor and book a real cruise where youcan spend the day in various ports there!!

  6. carolina says

    is there any updates about the departing times and arriving is it punctual ?

  7. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Kath,

    I hope you have resolved the Fast Ferry issues. Thank you for your comment.


  8. Kath says

    I really want to book this for my son and I in March to head over to Freeport but I have read the comments and I’m really worried about the departure issues and problems! Please someone I need to find out what our options are too? I wanted to book two first class but the price is high for both econ and first and if the departure and arrival is an issue and we are going to be late everywhere …well? Help!

  9. Suzanne says

    Good afternoon,
    we will be arriving Fort Lauderdale on 11/06/13 would like information on ferry service to Freeport/Grand Bahamma (schedule of dates and times) our return is on 11/13/13. We also need rates for two adults.

    Thank you.

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  13. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Anna,

    You will need to contact the Bahamas Fast Ferries directly. They have a website and I think you can book online. Sorry I can’t be of more help.


  14. anna strauß says

    hello. we want to ask if we can book your Ferry online
    is it possible, from the Dates 17.07. AM (Arrival date from Miami) to 19.07. PM (departure day from freeport)
    thanks for your help

  15. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Julia,

    Cunard allows pets on the Queen Mary 2 but I do not know about the Fast Ferry. You’d have to call them to enquire. Sorry I can’t provide any further information.

    Thank you.


  16. Julia Kennedy says

    Dear Sherry
    Great site! I wonder if you can help me with some advice…

    My husband and I are planning on relocating to the Bahamas (Grand Bahama) next year from the UK with our 2 cats and 2 dogs.

    We would rather not put them through the danger & discomfort of flying and were thinking of all setting sail together instead… Do you know if this is possible/plausible?

    Thanks in advance

  17. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Charlie,

    Sorry you had such an unfortunate experience. Thank you for your comment.

    Cruise Maven

  18. Charlie Franklin says

    Do not under any circumstance take a day trip with this company. It will take much longer than the advertised time and you will have wasted most of your day and a lot of money. Overnight trip may be fine but take my advice DO NOT DO DAY TRIP.

  19. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Monica,

    Have a terrific time if you should go. Good idea to stay at least one overnight there. Bon Voyage!


    Cruise Maven

  20. Monica says

    I’m seriously thinking about this trip.. I wouldn’t do 1 day because you have to think about the unforeseen problems with boarding, weather and so on. You can’t go to Miami for $49 round trip these days. This is definitely on my “things to do list”

  21. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Inna,

    Thanks for reading the article. If you’re going to go, do go with a bit of flexibility. I haven’t heard any updates lately, but have also read a lot of negatives about the embarkation and debarkation procedures. For a quick getaway and a “test” drive, I’d do it.

    Sherry/Cruise Maven

  22. Inna says

    Any improvements in the ferry to Bahamas arriving late and departure late? I would like to go but concerned about some reviewers.

  23. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Sorry to hear of your unhappy experience. Hopefully there will be improvements in the near future.


    Sherry, Cruise Maven

  24. Summer Mason says

    I just went on the Bahamas Express this past weekend and it was the worst experience EVER!!!!!!! DO NOT waste your money!!! The boat was suppose to leave at 10am and arrive in the Bahamas at 12:30, however that is not the case. We left late and did not arrive in the Bahamas until almost 4pm. We were told we had to board the boat at 6:30pm to start our journey back to FL. We had about 2 1/2 hours total on the Bahamas. Their boarding process is terrible. Line after line and so very unorganized!!!! After wanting in line for over for a boarding pass, we had to wait in another line for an hour to board the boat. I wish I would have done more research before wasting a whole day and too much money!!!!! Terrible…Terrible…Terrible!!!!!

  25. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks for your question. Yes, you are correct, there have been mixed reviews. I have not been on the cruise so I can’t give a personal account but I do hope to experience the short trip in the near future. If you look at the entire experience as a one-day getaway to the Bahamas and include the time aboard the ship as part of the total trip, then four hours to wander around Freeport is plenty of time. In the past, if you went to one of the hotels for lunch, you could just mosey out to the pool area. That’s a good question and one that I will investigate.

    The distance from the port to the beach is about a 10 minute taxi ride. There might be a shuttle service available that you can use to share the expenses with other beach-goers.

    Thanks again and if you do decide to go, have a terrific day in the Bahamas!


  26. Suzanne says

    We are looking at this closely and I have seen lots of mixed reviews, but not clear information about time do stuff, etc. Do you feel that 4 hours on the island is really worth it? How hard it is to get to the beach and other things from the port? Especially if you don’t want to rent a car. Will the hotels allow day usage of their beaches?

    Thanks for your input.


  27. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi – thank you for reading my blog post about the Bahamas Express. You’ll have to contact them directly in order to book your reservation.

    Have a good time!
    Cruise Maven

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