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“Great service, interesting boat; buy your tickets in advance”

Alcatraz Cruises, LLC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Visit San Francisco's most notorious site: Alcatraz. The rich history of Alcatraz Island means there is always something new to discover. See the first lighthouse on the West Coast, learn about Alcatraz as a Civil War fort, hear voices from the past on the cellhouse audio tour, find out about the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz by Indians of all tribes, and explore the natural side of the Rock with beautiful gardens, bird colonies, and breathtaking views. All tickets include roundtrip ferry transportation, all regularly scheduled Ranger-led or docent guided tours, and a captivating audio tour in the prison cellhouse with actual interviews of former guards and inmates who lived on the island during the infamous Federal Penitentiary era (now available in 11 languages - English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian). Reserve tickets in advance and make sure to book through Alcatraz Cruises for guaranteed lowest prices. Alcatraz Cruises is the official National Park Service concessioner serving visitors to Alcatraz Island. Open seven days a week, with several daily departures, Alcatraz is a place to experience for locals and visitors alike. Alcatraz Island is truly an inescapable experience.
DeWitt, New York
Level Contributor
539 reviews
252 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 399 helpful votes
“Great service, interesting boat; buy your tickets in advance”
Reviewed October 1, 2013

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.)

Visited September 2013
Thank Joe H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,642 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Norwegian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Columbus, Ohio
Level Contributor
80 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“Book ahead so you don't miss out!!!”
Reviewed October 1, 2013

Thanks to all the great reviews online I knew we needed to book this online ahead of time to make sure we didn't miss out and I'm sure glad we did! We booked the 10am tour for a Friday and when we arrived at the pier we noticed the next available tour was 5 days out. Glad we planned ahead!

You line up and wait to board the board for the short ride to the island. Upon arrival on the island, there is a tour guide who gives a quick speech telling you about the different options for your day. Be sure to stop and listen, lots of good advice. Then we walked up to the jail and started the audio tour. Amazing! They give you headphones and an easy to control hand device. You push start when you're ready and you can easily pause and rewind as needed. The tour tells you where to stand and where to walk and where to look so you're always sure to be looking at exactly the right thing. They recorded the voices of actual guards and inmates, it's chilling to be stand there and hearing actual people who were there.

Be aware that there are some treacherous spots and some of the walking is fairly steep. Be mindful of your surroundings at all time! I was attempting to take a picture out over the bay and got a little too close to the edge of the walkway. I caught my toenail on the stone and ripped part of it off. Very painful but totally my own fault!! I stopped at the guide desk and they were super friendly; they offered to drive me down to first aid which I said was unnecessary so they gave me all the supplies to fix myself up. Just be warned so you don't do something similiar! :-)

They say it takes about 2 1/2 hrs on average on their website which I found to be very accurate. But you can take as long as you like. When you're ready to go back, you simply walk down to the dock and wait for the next cruise to come over and unload. It's all very well organized and

Visited September 2013
Thank lasvegasjunkie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level Contributor
72 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Earlybird tour - wonderful”
Reviewed September 29, 2013

We did the earlybird tour and were the first group on the island on a beautiful Saturday (or was it Sunday?) morning. We'd booked online prior to our visit.

The audio tour really was outstanding, as we'd been told. The island is fascinating and I loved sitting outside in the sun, listening to the tour and looking over to the city thinking about what it would have been like to be a prisoner or a warden on the island.

The sky was cloudless and there was an eerie juxtaposition in our photos of the fallen down warden house with beautiful blue sky beyond, and California Gulls nesting in the old chimney.

Loved it.

Visited June 2013
Thank ClaireNZ2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“The best audio guide I have ever used”
Reviewed September 29, 2013

You HAVE to do this, and you HAVE to book in advance... Please note that this is the only tour that takes you inside Alcatraz, When we arrived the first tour available was for three days after we were to leave, but luckily enough we had booked online. I was actually rather reluctant to go to Alcatraz because of its past, the Pierside facilities were pretty dire and over on the island side we were warned of steep gradients and uneven surfaces so Iwasn't filled with confidence.
My feelings changed when we reached the actual jail and were given our headsets. These are very userfriendly in that you can pause and rewind very easily.
Well I was absolutely in awe of the audio tour. Real prisoners and guards had been recorded telling of their experiences and the sound effects were spine tingling. the whole thing brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion and everyone I saw came out in a very quiet, reflective mood.
You really should do this!

Visited September 2013
Thank BreeSee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern Ireland
Level Contributor
99 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
Reviewed September 29, 2013 via mobile

We did the night time tour of Alcatraz. The tour was fantastic, excellent guides and the evening tour helps with the ambience. We got into the hospital which is a must and also experienced the cell door slamming demonstration. We booked the tickets online in advance as tours fill up quickly. The boat journey was quick and smooth. You do need to wear warm clothes as it gets cold. Souvenir shop is worth a visit.

Visited September 2013
Thank Jo-JoKesh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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