Alcatraz Island, home of the infamous former prison Alcatraz, is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most popular attractions and often sells out well in advance. But there are other options to see Alcatraz, particularly with our boat tours. San Francisco’s Red and White Fleet® gives you the option to join various boat tours around Alcatraz island, learning about its colorful history, without leaving the comfort of the ship.
Historic Red and White Fleet® — the original San Francisco sightseeing adventure — has been in operation since 1892, providing guests with a memorable way to experience this renowned city. Our Alcatraz boat trips are no exception. Join us on one of our Alcatraz boat rides, the perfect way to learn about one of San Francisco’s most dramatic landmarks without ever having to leave the boat.
Our Alcatraz Boat Tours Highlight the Island’s Colorful History
All of our popular boat trips circling Alcatraz Island allow you to discover the history of this island. Once known as America’s most dangerous and notorious prison, Alcatraz Island was named in 1775 by Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala. The following century, the U.S. Army regarded “The Rock” as a valuable military fortification and built an impressive fortress. Eventually, its military mystique faded, and Army began using the isolated island as a holding place for prisoners of war.
After a stint as a military prison, Alcatraz was reconfigured to hold the nation’s most notorious criminals — and with this reconfiguration came a reputation of a long-term prison known for its extraordinarily strict disciplinary measures. The best security against those who attempted to escape was the violent, icy currents of San Francisco Bay surround Alcatraz Island. Those who didn’t drown swam back to the Island to a harsh punishment.
One of the most infamous inmates housed at Alcatraz was Al Capone, who arrived at the prison in 1934. Although he only served four and a half years at the prison, he generated a significant amount of media attention. Other notable inmates include Robert Stroud, Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz, Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson and Mickey Cohen.
Alcatraz Cruises Details
All of our Alcatraz boat tours depart from our convenient location at Pier 43 ½ in Fisherman’s Wharf. Unlike other Alcatraz tours, instead of stopping on the island, we cruise around it as we recount the illustrious tales of this infamous island and provide incredible views of the island, skyline and bay along the way.
From the comfortable viewing platform of a Red and White Fleet boat, you’ll gaze at Alcatraz and marvel at its macabre history. Narrated in 12 languages — English, Español, Français, Deutsch, Italiano, 简体字, Português, русский, 日本語, 汉语, 한국어, ภาษาไทย, and हिन्दी.