New Ferries Arrive in Pensacola
Sailing towards Pensacola’s Plaza de Luna under a late afternoon sun, two new passenger ferries were greeted by a crowd of excited local residents. The ferries were built as part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Ferry Project, which is being implemented by the Department of the Interior.
For years, local residents have hoped for passenger ferry service connecting Gulf Island National Seashore, downtown Pensacola, and Pensacola Beach. Construction of the ferries began in January 2016 in Bellingham, Washington. Once completed, they traveled 1,900 nautical miles over the course of three weeks to reach Pensacola—even traveling through the Panama Canal!
The project will improve pedestrian access to the park and reduce auto traffic on the park’s roads. This will help offset some of the recreational opportunities lost during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Ferry service is planned to begin next year.
A contest to name the ferries was hosted by the National Park Service last year. Local school children submitted the winning names: Turtle Runner and Pelican Perch.