With some of the world’s cleanest and most reliable public transport, getting from A to B in Dubai is fairly hassle-free. You have options such as the metro, the bus services, and the government run taxi services. So what about the Dubai Ferry?
The ferry service was launched in 2011 by the RTA (Road and Transport Authority) as another option for commuters seeking to use public transport. Each boat can take up to 100 passengers, and features an onboard snack lounge that offers for sale a selection of drinks and light bites.
Although it is a scheduled service with a published timetable, it will only run if there is a minimum of 10 passengers on each trip. The boats can also be hired for private use from the RTA on hourly rental charter packages. For more information, check out the RTA website.
The Dubai Ferry currently runs from three ferry terminals. Al Ghubaiba and Dubai Marina were the original stations, while the Al Mamzar terminal joined the network late 2014. Ferry services from Al Ghubaiba and Dubai Marina run 7 days a week, although frequencies are now reduced – sometimes only running 3 times a day.
The Al Ghubaiba terminal is a short walk from the metro station of the same name (near the creek abra stations), while the Marina terminal is just out the back and to the left of the Marina Mall.
Most trips run for approximately 1 hour from each terminal (round trips, more for sightseeing) while the end-to-end trips, which run from one terminal to the other, can take anything from 60-90 minutes. To plan your journey, click here.
There are two types of tickets available on the Dubai Ferry, depending on which class you choose to travel in. The price of tickets is currently the same for all routes.
A “Gold Class” seats (of which there are 14) are priced at 75 dirhams. The Gold Class section is at the front of the boat and offers more comfortable and spacious seats. Tickets for travel in “Silver Class” will set you back 50 dirhams.
Silver Class is in the main body of the boat and offers 86 seats. It has access to the outdoor area at the back of the boat, and also offers accessibility and dedicated wheelchair spaces. Infants (under 2 years) travel for free with an adult, while children aged 2-10 receive a 50% discount on adult prices.
The use of pushchairs is permitted on the ferries.
Buying Your Ticket
You can buy your Dubai Ferry tickets at the ferry terminal, located next to the launch pier. Tickets can be paid for with cash or by debit/credit card. Due to the varying limitations which may prevent the ferry from setting sail, tickets can only be bought from the point of origin and at the time of departure.
For now, you cannot book tickets for the Dubai Ferry in advance or online.
Keeping Information on Hand
The RTA has designed a very user-friendly, compact leaflet about how to use the ferry, as well as a map with routes and stops – all in the form of a handy pocket guide.
Whether you are a resident, planning to use the ferry for the first time, or a visitor to the city looking for a cost effective way to get out on the water, this guide is a useful reference tool to print out and keep in your pocket.
The Ferry for Tourists
The Dubai Ferry is a great option for tourists since it allows you to sit back and relax while you sail past the city. From the sea, you get a view of some of the most popular parts of Dubai, including the famous 7-star hotel, the Burj al Arab, as well as the man-made islands that make up the Palm Jumeirah.
Although there are other options for this kind of trip, they are much more expensive – so it is worth taking a trip on the ferry if you are on holiday in Dubai.
The Al Ghubaiba terminal is conveniently close to the abras, the small and traditional wooden water taxis that run along the oldest part of Dubai, the creek around which the city was born. The abras will take you across to Deira, where you can find the original Gold and Spice souks, as well as the Dubai Museum.
The Ferry for Residents
All considered, the RTA knows that using the ferry is not the most efficient way of getting around the city. While it was a novel idea, the practicality of it is somewhat lacking. If your journey is time-critical, then this is not the best way to commute.
However, it is one of the most relaxing, peaceful ways to enjoy the things we love most about Dubai. The skyline and some of the best city sights glide by while you imagine you are on holiday. Sun and sea surround you. There is no noise, no traffic. Therein lies the benefit of the ferry.
Not to be confused with…
The Dubai Water Taxi, which offers a similar concept but uses much smaller 11m x 4m catamarans.
The boats are kitted out with business class style seats, each with its own LCD screen and tray table. Although the boats seat 11, the concept requires that you phone and request a voyage for yourself and however many are in your group.
Most people like it this way because it means that they don’t continue to pick people up until the boat is full. It’s literally like a water taxi service. The down side of the exclusivity is, of course, the impact it has on price: regular journeys start at Dhs50 for one stop, rising to Dhs570 for a trip between the two farthest stations.