The Utila Dream Ferry became a Dream Come True for the Bay Island of Utila, Honduras on On October 30, 2015.
Utila Dream Ferry Inauguration Celebration
An inaugural celebration was held at the port in La Ceiba, Honduras known as “Muelle de Cabotaje” at the the new terminal built exclusively for the Utila Dream Ferry. Present at the inauguration celebration were invited guests and members of the national and international press. Also in attendance was the Honduras Minister of Tourism, Emilio Silvestri, Mayor of La Ceiba, Carlos Aguilar, and Mayor of Utila, Troy Bodden Sr. in addition to investors / owners of the Utila Dream, Mr. Kenny McNab and Richard Watler who welcomed all in attendance and participated in the ribbon cutting, officially inaugurating the Utila Dream.
The Utila Dream
The “Dream” of the the brand new ferry was born during a golf game held in Roatan between Investors / Owners Kenny McNab and Richard Watler. In my opinion, they hit a hole in one! The Utila Dream ferry is a state of the art, brand new, first class vessel with full attention to detail.
The festivities began with music from a local band, accompanied by their dancers, who played some entertaining music to get things going while guests were served appetizers, ceviche and pastries. The full open bar, along with the music, set the stage for a very enjoyable start to the Utila Dream’s inauguration celebration.
Utila to La Ceiba Ferry
Following the band’s performance, La Ceiba Mayor, Carlos Aguilar officially welcomed the Utila Dream ferry service, and pointed out how the brand new vessel will provide a lift in tourism between La Ceiba and Utila.
The Utila Dream Ferry is a modern, double decker vessel that has the capacity to comfortably carry 250+ passengers.
The lower deck provides indoor, air conditioned, individual cushioned seating, while the upper deck features outdoor covered seating, and provides for spectacular photo opportunities during the trip between La Ceiba and Utila (and vice versa), not to mention fresh clean air. Also located on the upper deck is a “First Class” section, which provides comfortable individual air conditioned seating and the captain’s view.
Utila’s Mayor, Troy Bodden, also spoke, welcoming the alternative choice for tourists to reach the beautiful island of Utila from the city of La Ceiba. He indicated that recent growth on the island led to a desire for this new service.
The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was next, and then on to the maiden voyage.
Utila Dream – La Ceiba to Utila Ferry
HondurasNews.com correspondent, Jonathan Roberto Catracho, participated in the celebration and maiden voyage from La Ceiba to Utila. All guests in attendance were invited, and members of the press were invited to join in on the maiden voyage, which took only 45 minutes. Once docked in Utila, only 20 minutes later the Utila Dream Ferry returned to La Ceiba, carrying on her some of the first passengers who were treated to a free ride.
After many, many years of enduring rides on the some of the most uncomfortable ferries that the Utila Princess has been using to serve the Island of Utila, the brand new Utila Dream Ferry is truly a dream come true, for not only tourists, but residents of the Island of Utila as well. The ride on the Utila Dream is an extremely welcome, smooth sail in comfort, and you just get that feeling of riding “in style” instead of being on a “chicken bus”.
So … now there are two ferry operations serving the Utila to La Ceiba water route on a daily basis. Both operations have basically the same schedule (much to the dismay and controversy of the public). The departure from Utila is at 6:20 AM for the Utila Princess, and 6:25 AM for the Utila Dream. They leave from La Ceiba at 9:30 AM, arriving in Utila at approximately 10:30. In the afternoon, they both depart Utila at 2:00 PM, and leave La Ceiba at 4:00 PM, arriving in Utila about 5:00 PM. Keep in mind that the Utila Dream voyage is between 35 and 45 minutes, while the Utila Princess will take an hour (or more sometimes).
Please note that during “High Tourism Season” the Utila Dream Ferry will be making additional daily trips to the Bay Island of Roatan, departing Utila at 1:00 PM and leaving from West End in Roatan at 2:00 PM. (High season dates have not yet been confirmed, but we will update them here as soon as they are made available to us.)
Utila Dream Ferry Prices
As for pricing, well, that is what we in the news business call a “developing story”. The Utila Princess has been charging $25 each way for years; but, on October 31st, the day after the brand new Utila Dream Ferry began operations, they lowered their price to $7 each way and began allowing children under 11 a free ride, and those under 18 a 25% discount, as well as providing seniors with a 25% discount. In addition, they cut their cargo prices in half.
The Utila Dream has not yet officially set its fare, so for the time being, they are matching the Utila Princess’s, including the cargo discount.
The Utila Dream Ferry, in addition to the many other perks and comforts, features a large walk in freezer to transport perishables and items that require refrigeration! Hopefully, those on the island who sell ice cream will immediately switch to using the Utila Dream Cargo services, as for years residents and tourists of Utila have had to tolerate ice cream that melts on the way to the Island, and then gets refrozen by the merchant, yielding crystallized ice cream. (Yes, I enjoy good, creamy Ice Cream :-).)
As mentioned above, the pricing is a “developing story”, as the following day, November 1, 2015, the Utila Princess lowered their price, again, to $4.50. So, the Utila Dream responded by lowering their price to $9 each way. Okay, these prices may stick for awhile, as the companies clearly will be engaging in a price war until one of them goes broke. There is absolutely no way that either operation can run a sustainable business with these prices. However, both companies have major investors / owners; after all, these are multi-million dollar operations. As of the publication of this article, these prices have remained in effect, and so it all boils down to comfort, service, and personal preference. It’s just like choosing to fly on discount airlines like Spirit Air and all of the hassles that go along with it, or choosing the full service and comfort of airlines like American Airlines, Delta or United/Continental. You get what you pay for.
What we do know from reliable sources, is that the Utila Dream Ferry offered to purchase the Utila Princess operation a few years back, and the price that was given was over $1,000,000.00 too much; yes that is one million dollars. So, the investors / owners of the new Utila Dream Ferry went off and built everything brand new from scratch, and in the end, saved themselves over a million dollars, which means they now have “petty cash” to play this price war. Also from a reliable source, they knew this was going to happen, and came prepared to play the price battle. Realistically, for any of these ferry operations to run a sustainable business, they must have their prices at no less than $18 each way, and do away with the 25% discount for those under 18. Time will tell, but this reporter is betting on the success of the Utila Dream Ferry.
Another “Dream” come true is that the Facebook Page for the Utila Dream Ferry is being run internally and not outsourced. So far, their Facebook page has been listening to its clientele, and there have been various debates about the schedule. Many residents of the Island of Utila would prefer a later departure time (7:00 AM). In response to the request, the Utila Dream team has responded with a survey, to gather statistics and analyze the best move. Although many would like a later departure time, it is important to note that many travelers have international flights to catch in San Pedro Sula, and the early 6:25 AM departure time makes more business sense (in my opinion); although I am one of the ones who would prefer the 7:00 AM departure. Ultimately, the decision lies with the business plan. However, the mere act of conducting the survey shows that the Utila Dream team is listening … Also, yesterday the Utila Dream Team posted a status update live while they were cruising from Utila to La Ceiba! These types of live updates are long overdue for clients who have spent countless hours and wasted time trying to find out if the Utila Princess is on schedule or not, and even during bad weather, they have never provided any updates, leading people to having to ask all over if the Utila Princess is even going to make the voyage or not? During busy times, multiple trips are run during the day to accommodate the influx of passengers; this is great, however, no announcements have ever been made, and people end up just sitting around waiting for the next voyage while they could be making better use of their down time, if even just a clue were given; in essence their Facebook Page is completely useless. I can’t understate the importance of status updates and customer service. Utila Dream, keep up the good work and keep us all up to date, good or bad.
Regarding the price war and discounted tickets, there are two ways to view the possible outcome:
- Tourists and Residents will be happy. Of course, they are ecstatic that they can now, on a whim, go to back and forth from Utila to La Ceiba without giving much thought to the cost of the ride. Some have already started going over just to enjoy lunch at a nice restaurant in La Ceiba. Let’s face it, these fares are like “tip” money to some.
- CRIME and Immigration will become a problem!!! Yes, many residents of Utila are petrified of the possible increase in crime to the island of Utila. With prices as low as $4.50, those on the mainland with ‘not so good’ intentions will not hesitate to just jump aboard the Utila Princess and start a new crime wave. Also, with children being free and teens being discounted, entire families that are having a difficult time on the mainland may start to migrate to Utila in search of a new life. Utila does not currently have sufficient law enforcement to deal with the increased crime that usually follows an increase in population. Plus, the Island does not have the infrastructure to accommodate the immigration of more poor people from the coast.
Although some are happy with the lowered fares, there may be trouble on the horizon.
Photos of the Utila Dream Ferry
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Video of the Utila Dream Ferry
For more information visit UtilaFerry.com
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