Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ferries to Mexico

We've been thinking about making a trip to Mexico to have a look at parts of that country we've never visited, and perhaps to locate our long-lost exchange student "daughter", Claudia. Claudia stayed with us for three months in New Hampshire in 1979 and went to Salem High School. We lost track of Claudia when we moved one time too many and she didn't know how to contact us any more. I've tried sporadically to get some information that might lead to her current whereabouts, without success. Claudia Esther Avila Pino (Fisher/Kelly) lived in Villahermosa in the state of Tabasco. She married "Tello" Ficcachi (sp?) in the 1980's and had at least two daughters, which we know because she sent a photo once.

Investigating such a trip, I came across some references to an auto ferry, dubbed the "Yucatan Express", that sailed in the winter of 2002-2003 between Tampa and Merido in Yucatan. She was in fact the Scotia Prince, sailing in the summer between Portland, ME and Nova Scotia for 34 years until 2005, when it became necessary to cease operations due to problems with the City of Portland and its port facilities there.

Now it appears that the company may be effectively out of business, although their web sites are still accessible.

It struck me that it might be interesting, maybe even profitable, to have ferry service between Key West and other ports in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The Express' trip between Tampa and Merida took a day-and-a-half, but the ferry was equipped with amenities that made for a pleasant trip -- cabins, restaurants, a casino, shops, entertainment. This sort of thing has been talked about for years, especially with regard to ferries to Cuba. There's supposed to be a Miami to Key West ferry somewhere in the future. I haven't heard much about it lately, though.

I've made inquiries in the past about sailing from Key West to other destinations. The only such opportunity at present is the fast catamaran ferry between Key West and Marco Island & Ft. Myers, the Key West Express. I've also asked about the option of sailing from Key West on one of the cruise ships that stops here regularly. Apparently that's not an available option, for reasons I don't understand.

What that leaves is to fly, or to hire a private charter for the trip from here. Too bad. It'd be a nice crossing to make at the right time of year.

Ideas, anyone?

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