This is the only way to get to Alcatraz if you want to actually get onto the island. Other boat tours are only allowed to take you around the island but do not dock and let you off there. It is very important that you buy your ticket in advance (on their website) because they do sell out, sometimes days or weeks in advance, and you don't want to be disappointed.
My wife was in a wheelchair at the time, recovering from an injury. The Alcatraz Cruises staff were very considerate and helpful in ensuring that she got onto and off of the boat safely at both docks.
The boats themselves are interesting, as they are designed for energy efficiency. There is a large panel TV in the boat that displays how the energy needs of the boat are managed, including the main engines, the solar panels, and the vertical wind turbines.
Food is sold on the boat, but not allowed on Alacatraz itself.
If you happen to be arriving on a cruise ship (we did), the Alacatraz Cruises dock is very close to the cruise ship pier, within a five minute walk. You can save some money by not buying a shore excursion from the cruise line, and simply walk over to the dock yourself. (But don't forget to buy your tickets in advance.)
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