Taking the Cargo Ferry from Ceiba to Culebra or Vieques
11/22 Currently, getting a vehicle spot on the cargo ferry is only available for Culebra and Vieques residents and approved supply vendors. This article is aimed primarily at residents of Puerto Rico who need to use the cargo ferry to move vehicles and other cargo between the islands of Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques. If you are just looking for a way to get to Culebra or Vieques for the day (or for the start of your vacation over there), read our article about the passenger ferry. For the most accurate and updated info, go to the source- the Official ferry Page.
Passengers vs Cargo
There are three types of ferries that run between Ceiba/Culebra and Ceiba/Vieques — passenger ferries and cargo/cargo-passenger ferries. The passenger ferries carry passengers only — no cars or cargo. So they are faster ships. Two types of cargo ferries- one that takes both passengers and cargo (including cars) and one that is cargo/cars only. But, before you get all excited and think that you are going to save a couple bucks by taking your rental car over to Culebra or Vieques — think again.
The cargo ferries are not intended for tourists. There is limited room that locals need for transportation and supplies. They do not provide reliable tourist vehicle transport and in order to buy a ticket you need to show a vehicle registration, which you won’t have for a rental car.
Cargo Ferry Basics
For the record, we have never tried to take our car on the cargo ferry. But we wanted to publish this information, just so that people have it.
There is a cargo ferry that runs between Ceiba and Culebra and one between Ceiba and Vieques. You need to make a reservation in order to get a vehicle on the ferries. They sell out quickly, so book as far in advance of your trip as possible. This can only be done in person at the dock. If you want to be a passenger on a cargo-passenger ferry, those tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or at the ticket window..
Passengers are permitted on the cargo-passenger ferries, though they are usually slower boats than the passenger ferries, and there are fewer seats. The trip can take 45-90 minutes depending on which ferry you’re on, and the weather. Adverse weather conditions may alter the schedule.
If the gasoline supply truck is on the cargo ferry, passengers will not be allowed on that ferry (only the drivers of the vehicles on the ferry). Also, when the cargo ferry is full of its cargo, it will leave (not wait for posted departure time).
Cargo and Cargo/Passenger Ferry Schedule
For the most accurate and updated info, go to the source- the Official ferry Page. for current times.
Cost of Vehicles for the Cargo or Cargo-passenger Ferry
Check our passenger ferry article for other passenger fares and other info about being a passenger on the the ferry. Round trip fares for small cars will be about $22 to Vieques and Culebra. As the size of the vehicle gets larger, so does the price…small SUV about $32, small pickup truck is about $55, Larger trucks are more etc. Check the Puerto Rico Ferry “Fares” page for exact rates. The car/truck driver’s fare is included in the fee for the vehicle. Payment can be made in cash or via VISA/Mastercard. For extra passengers, one-way ticket to Culebra costs $2.50 per person and a one-way ticket to Vieques costs $2.00 per person. Kids and seniors have reduced rate. Remember to add the passengers on while buying tickets.
For just purchasing passenger tickets for the cargo-passenger ferry ahead of time, that can be done online at the ferry ticket page. Small Island locals can still buy tickets in person, at the ferry terminal ticket window. Visitors can only buy tickets at the dock window 1 hr before each scheduled trip. Only part of the tickets are sold online, so if it sells “sold out”, there should be tickets available in person. Most of these are reserved for residents only, but they may have some available for tourists.
Making a Car Reservation for the Cargo Ferry
Reservations are required for cars/cargo on the cargo ferry. You really can only do that at the ticket window
Getting Your Stuff onto the Cargo Ferry
You must be at the loading dock early on your reserved day and time or you will lose your spot. They recommend 1 hour before departure. If you are late, they will NOT hold the ferry for you. When you arrive at the ferry dock you have to check-in at the window where they validate your reservation. Bring your vehicle to the ship and someone will tell you when/where to load. These workers usually ask your name and compare it to the reservation list. Once you are parked on the ferry, they may need to you to hang around until everyone is loaded, because they sometimes have to jockey the cars/trucks around to fit everyone.
Cargo trucks get priority, so even with a reservation, passenger cars may get bumped if a cargo truck needs a spot, which can leave you stranded and your plans totally messed up. Tourists just shouldn’t do it. Rent a car on the smaller islands and save yourself a lot of stress and extra effort.
It takes about 45-1 hr mins for the ATM cargo ferry to get to Vieques. It takes about 1.5 hrs to get to Culebra .
Directions to the Ceiba Ferry Terminal from the San Juan Area
The Ceiba ferry Terminal, as well as the Ceiba Airport, is located in the old Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Ceiba. If you already know where the Ceiba Airport is, then finding the Ceiba Ferry Terminal will be easy for you.
Drive-time from the San Juan (SJU) Airport to the Ceiba Ferry Terminal is about 75-90 minutes.
If traveling to the ferry terminal from the San Juan area, you’ll want to take Route 26 east to Route 66 east to Route 3 east (toward Fajardo). Route 66 ends on Route 3 in Río Grande, so you’re taking Route 66 to the end. Note that Route 66 is a toll road, and an AutoExpreso transponder is required for the tolls.
Continue east on Route 3 toward Fajardo. Once in the Fajardo area, Route 3 becomes Route 53. Once you’re on Route 53, you’ll want to take Exit 2 at KM 1.4 (which is before the first toll booth). This is the exit for the Puerto del Rey Marina and the Ceiba Airport. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left under Route 53, then continue straight. This will put you back on Route 3 heading south. Then, really all you need to do is follow the signs for the Puerto del Rey Marina and the Ceiba Airport. Continue on Route 3 past the Puerto del Rey Marina on your left.
You’ll continue on Route 3 to KM 52.4, where you’ll turn left onto Tarawa Drive. Landmarks here include a solar farm on the right, and the “Bienvenidos Ceiba” sign in the photo above. Continue straight on Tarawa Drive until you arrive at the guardhouse at the entrance to the naval base. If there is a guard, just tell them that you are going to the ferry.
Once through the gate, follow the brown “Ferry” signs — At the first V, you’ll go left onto Forrestal Drive. At the second V, you’ll follow the road as it curves to the left. At the third V, go right. Then, finally, turn left onto Marina Drive. Continue on Marina Drive until you come to the parking area and blue DTOP ATM building on your right.
There is a parking lot further down the road from the ferry that will provide transportation to the ferry in a van. They charge $10 plus tax per 24 hr. I suggest you do not park on the side of the road, they do give out parking tickets.
Ticket window opens 1 hr before each scheduled trip.
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