When you think about Dubai local transport, you typically refer to the efficient and cheap metro, the buses and taxis and of course the traditional abra boats crossing the Dubai Creek. Even though I have been to the United Arab Emirates that often, I had my first ever Dubai Ferry ride in December 2020. The water transport has been established in 2011. My review is based on a trip from Dubai Marina Mall to Al Ghubaiba in the heart of historic Dubai.
Dubai Ferry – The Network
Dubai ferry is run by the RTA, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority. There are currently four Dubai ferry routes:
- FR1 connects the Dubai Marina Mall and Al Ghubaiba, a pier in the heart of the historic town, right at the Dubai Creek. The ferry also stops at Dubai Canal near Jumeirah Beach. My ferry passed that stop, though
- FR5 connects Al Ghubaiba with Aquarium Marine Station in Sharjah, stopping at the Waterfront Market.
- There are round-trip two touristic routes as well: FR4 starts at Marina Mall, passes the Palm Jumeirah and returns back. FR5 departs from Al Ghubaiba and does a sightseeing trip to Dubai Maritime City before it is returning.
The ferries are quite exposed to weather – at high wind speed, ships may not operate. The full FR1 trip is 50 AED (11.40 EUR) in Silver Class, 70 AED in Gold Class. If you embark / disembark at Dubai Canal, it is half price. FR5 is 25/35AED. Please note that there are other water service by RTA: the different types of abras (traditional, electric etc.), the Dubai Water Bus along Dubai Canal and the Dubai Water Taxi. FR5 has been suspended during Covid-19.
Dubai Ferry – Fleet
Dubai Ferry is operated by Damen DFF 3207 catamaran boats. The boat has a length of 32 meters and it is some 7.6 meters wide. the boat operates one deck with 100 seats in total. Unfortunately, its manufacturer, the Dutch Damen company, does unfortunately not feature technical details for that class (only for the double-deck sister, the DFF 3209). The company is also building the Dubai Water Taxi. During the trip, you were allowed to enjoy the view of Dubai from the back of the ship as well – the windows were very good, though, and did not reflect too much.
This is a picture of a Dubai Water Taxi, by the way:
Dubai Ferry – Inside the Ferry
As said, Dubai Ferry has a capacity of 100 seats. The first two rows are the Gold Class. Gold Class offers wider seats and better seat pitch as well as a separate compartment. The seating there is 2-3-2, i.e. seven seats in a row. The seats were very comfortable and also offered in-seat tables. The boat, however, neither offers power plugs nor WiFi. You had Dubai 5G network throughout the trip, though.
Silver Class is less comfortable, but not bad at all. The seating is a 3-3-3 configuration in the first five rows. Thereafter, there is a bar in the middle of the ship, so that you just have three seats on each window side. Like in Gold Class, there are information screens, which have a quite short rotation, though, and are thus a bit of bothering. Silver Class is absolutely fine if you want to enjoy the view. The bar and souvenir kiosk was closed due to Covid-19. The rear of the ship also features restrooms.
Dubai Ferry – Marina to Creek Ride
I had an 11:00 service from Dubai Marina to Al Ghubaiba. The trip is roughly 85 minutes. as said above, it skipped the Dubai Canal stop and went around the Jumeirah Palm. There feels to be a shortcut along the coast as well, but I am not sure about it. The ferry was not too popular unfortunately, there were just seven passengers in total, me being the only one in Gold Class.
From the Dubai Marina Mall pier (which is some walk away from the metro), the ship is heading South. Close to the JA Ocean View hotel, it offers a view of Jumeirah Beach Residence. On the left hand side, we passed the new Bluewaters Island district with the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel under construction.
Once you leave Jumeirah Beach Residences behind, you are already close to the Southern tip of Jumeirah Palm. The ferry is operating in a reasonable distance so that you have a good view of all the posh places, including the famous Atlantis Hotel with its aquarium facilities and impressive architecture. The ferry is operating in nice distance away from the coast, so that you can still spot Burj al Arab or – later – Downtown Dubai with the Burj Khalifa.
As soon as you leave the view of the tallest building in Dubai behind, you are already close to Dubai Maritime City. There are always some cruise ships at pier around Port Rashid, before the ferry turns right to enter the Dubai Creek. I especially loved to see the nice Perfume House from the creek again – even though that means that we were almost at the final stop. From Al Ghubaiba, it is just a few steps to the metro.
Dubai Ferry – My View
First of all: the Dubai Ferry FR1 is majorly a touristic option. While I can imagine that the terrible traffic makes the Sharjah FR5 branch very attractive, FR1 is about nine times the price of the metro (6 AED with nol ticket) and double the time. I still love the ferry. It is more comfortable. Gold Class was really posh, the view was beautiful and it was much more relaxed than hoping for the seat in the metro line. The price is absolutely fine. I definitely feel that Dubai Ferry is underrated. Give it a try on your next Emirates trip.
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