Taking the Ferry between Trinidad and Tobago
Many of us avoid taking the ferry between Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe we have memories of older vessels with longer trip times or we have just heard horror stories. It is a different story these days – clean, comfortable and efficient. Or at least it was until a few months ago. Recently there have been serious issues with the availability of vessels. At present I would recommend that you check with the Port Authority or a travel agent before purchasing a ticket. When the situation improves we will post the information. There is a ferry service but it can be frustrating at this time.
If you do decide to use the ferry we have put together a few tips explaining how to do it. Done it many times and it can be a very pleasant experience. Why would I opt to go by ferry? Firstly, because I want to take my vehicle and secondly because I can simply drive on in Port of Spain and off in Scarborough with everything in the car.
When planning to take the ferry to Tobago there is a bit of pre-planning that you should do. Get your lime together and decide when you want to go. Use our link to get the schedule and decide on the date and sailing time. https://ttitferry.com/index.php Of course be aware that this may change and you may need to be flexible and “go with the flow”. Closer to your travel date check on the schedules. The Port Authority has a habit of sending vessels to service in peak periods which may result in sailing time changes. Why???!!!
Make a written list with the name and age of all passengers, vehicle numbers and make and drivers names. If they are T vehicles include weight and if loaded with cargo or not. This list will greatly speed up the purchase of your tickets both online and in person.
Tickets are available at 42 Outlets throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Same day tickets may be purchased on the port. Please use following link to find the outlet that is most convenient to you: https://ttitferry.com/fares.php?mid=37 . The link will also provide you with current pricing.
It is a strange but true fact that each ticket outlet has a single computer terminal dedicated to the purchase of Tobago ferry tickets. The system only allows for one access at a time. This means prepare to wait. That’s why when your turn comes you hand the clerk your list and relax while he/she types all the info rather than you spelling out names etc…. The individuals in the line behind you will be most appreciative. Make sure the names on the tickets are spelt as on the ID that will be used to travel. Tickets are valid for a year from the date of issue and may be changed only once.
As of 2016 ferry tickets may also be purchased online at https://www.ttitferry.com/booking/ . This is a well designed, easy to use system which we highly recommend. Please note that tickets purchased online are only valid for the date indicated at purchase and cannot be revalidated. You can get a refund at the ports in Port of Spain or Scarborough but there is a 25% charge. In other words if you are not sure about your date do not purchase online! Recently issues have occurred with online purchases where tickets are being sold for non existent sailings. This is all related to current issues with availability of vessels. We recommend that you buy tickets at travel agents until further notice.
The boarding system is well organised. You should be there at least two hours before sailing time. The check in for passengers is the same in Trinidad and Tobago. Simply a matter of going to the window labelled passenger “check in” with your ticket and ID. As of the middle of 2014 the check in for vehicles and their passengers is also the same in Trinidad and Tobago.
On entering the port area in Trinidad, keep left and follow the line of vehicles onto the port. Everybody stays in the vehicle. You drive up to the security booth at the entrance to the port and hand the officer all tickets and ID. You get your boarding passes and drive onto the port to be sorted into loading lines. All passengers must be in the vehicle as your boarding passes will be checked on entry to the port. If you are travelling at a peak period it is a good idea to have one of the passengers in the vehicle walk on board with non-vehicle passengers to hold seats. Simply exit the vehicle after entering the loading area and join the passenger line with boarding pass and ID in hand.
The ferries are well maintained and managed. There is a mix of seating available, airplane style, chairs around tables and a couple of couches. (see pictures) Both ferries have had their seats refurbished recently but if you are a bit fussy take a towel and spread on the seats. The airplane style seats recline and have fold out tables in their arm rests. I find noise level to be the most important factor in seat choice. Decide if you want to be close to the bar, food, or TV monitors.
I would avoid the front of the ferry especially if the seas are rough. The centre and rear areas are more stable. Rides to Tobago tend to be rough as it is against the waves. Coming down from Tobago is much smoother as the ferries ride the waves. Around the Christmas season big swells are frequent and the ride can be particularly rough. If you know you are prone to seasickness please take precautions. I use Gravol – not the old time little white tablet , a pink and white, “quick acting long acting” one. Works like a charm! I have sat surrounded by very ill souls feeling perfectly fine. The staff are very good about handing out sick bags. Use the bathrooms early. They are clean and well kept but things happen. I avoid them at the end of rough trips.
Food on board is limited to items such as cheese or beef pies, fruit, hot dogs and snacks. Breakfast is Ok with scrambled eggs and sausages, bake and sausages etc… There is a bar with a wide selection of drinks. If you want more food or drink than that you can take it with you. Please remember to be considerate of fellow passengers. They do not need to hear your music or games. The ferries have TV monitors and a movie is usually shown. Also, your bag does not require a seat especially when the ferry is full. Lots of people read or play cards for the duration of the journey which is about 3 hours.
Disembarkation is usually quite quick. There is really no reason to rush. However, if you know that you are parked in a key location in the cargo area please go to your vehicle promptly. It is very unpleasant to sit in a vehicle breathing exhaust fumes waiting for a driver that is blocking a line of vehicles from exiting.
Travelling on the ferries gives you the opportunity to relax, enjoy the view and your fellow passengers. Yes, some of them may be more interesting than others but that is Trinidad and Tobago and the whole world generally. Once you know the ropes taking the ferry to Tobago is a breeze. I wouldn’t go any other way!