Confirmed: Only current month Puerto Rico Ferry tickets available
Puerto Ricans and tourists looking to visit and return from the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra via the ferry terminal in Ceiba have been complaining on social media about not being able to purchase tickets in advance. It turns out they will continue to have to wait until the last day of the month to be able to purchase tickets for the following month.
News is My Business confirmed the information initially by verifying the Puerto Rico Ferry website on Jan. 30, when the only tickets available for purchase were for travel the following day. When checked again on Jan. 31, tickets for travel in February were finally made available, but only for that month.
Asked whether tickets for travel past the current month could be purchased, the executive director of Puerto Rico’s Integrated Transportation Authority (ATI by its Spanish acronym), Josué Menéndez, confirmed to News is my Business that in fact tickets cannot be purchased months in advance.
“Indeed, it is possible to make reservations in advance,” Menéndez said, with the caveat that, “in this phase, it is limited to the current month; the need and efficiency of the service is being evaluated.”
The official further noted that once the evaluation of the ferry service’s current phase is completed, a quarterly itinerary will be offered for travelers to be able to purchase tickets further into the future.
“The limitation on the availability of online tickets is in response to [being able to] offer priority to residents of the island-municipalities, given it is the means of transportation frequently used by them,” he said.
Meanwhile, HMS Ferries, the company selected in late 2020 to operate the Maritime Transportation Authority’s ferry service as part of a public-private partnership, also responded to News is My Business’ request for information on the matter, explaining that “HMS Ferries Puerto Rico publishes approved Puerto Rico Ferry schedules as directed by ATI and opens ticket sales as early as possible.”
“We strive to have ATI provide schedules as far in advance as is logistically and operationally feasible to provide residents and riders with clarity and reliability,” the company replied. “All Puerto Rico Ferry schedules are created by and at the full discretion and direction of ATI and the government of Puerto Rico.”
HMS Ferries further noted that it “is not responsible” for the development of the ferry schedules, but when requested by ATI, it does “provide input and recommendations to the schedule.”
“Late delivery from ATI of an approved, final January and February schedule resulted in the late posting of schedules and ticket sales at puertoricoferry.com,” the company added. “Since assuming operational control of Puerto Rico Ferry in December 2021, HMS Ferries Puerto Rico has safely and reliably improved service to best meet rider demand, carrying more than 1 million passengers and improving on-time performance to 98% while building an ongoing partnership with the residents of the islands of Vieques and Culebra to ensure that they are provided access to essential transportation.”
On its frequently asked questions webpage, Puerto Rico Ferry’s site says: “Advance sales are limited. Agents can only sell tickets for schedules that have been published on Puertoricoferry.com and the APP.”
Regarding island-municipality residents, it states that, “currently, residents can purchase advance tickets on the website, the APP and the ticket window. Advance ticket sales are limited to published scheduled departures. Proof of residency is required when purchasing tickets.”
According to the website, advance tickets for nonresidents are also limited to the website and the mobile app.
“A limited number of tickets will be reserved for advance purchase via the website and app prior to a scheduled departure. Non-residents will be able to purchase tickets on the day of departure at the ticket window. It is recommended that passengers arrive at least one hour prior to scheduled departure,” the website adds.