Mérida, Yucatán — While private-sector companies for years have proposed ferry service to and from the United States, now the state government is getting into the game.
A boat connecting Yucatán with Mérida’s sister city of New Orleans would boost tourism and attract potential second-home buyers, said Eric Rubio Barthell, head of the Office of the State Executive.
He revealed that government officials are in talks with a U.S. company that navigates the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes region.
He noted, speaking to Diario de Yucatán, the encouraging fact that many tourists now come to Yucatán for longer visits, and noted that New Orleans is a strategic location for a large number of Americans.
In late April, a group of 40 business executives from Louisiana and Mississippi will meet with local government officials.
A ferry has been tried before. The “Yucatan Express,” connected Progreso with Tampa in 2003. It was a a 36-hour ride each way on a vessel that was smaller and more modest than a cruise ship, reported the St. Petersburg Times. As few as 37 passengers occupied the ferry’s 322 cabins on an early cruise and the venture lost millions of dollars.
Orlando-based United Caribbean Lines has repeatedly expressed interest in a Florida-Yucatán ferry and as recently as 2012 sent out questionnaires to potential customers. As of today, their home page indicates plans to sail to Cuba this fall.