Alcatraz Tickets Regularly Sell Out, Especially the Night Tour.
The way is to hunt for a Combination Tour Package sold by a third party reseller. You may already know that Alcatraz City Cruises is the official concessionaire of the National Park Service -- providing ferry service to and from Alcatraz Island. This should be your first search, as they sell the tickets without any mark-up.
What you may not know, is that when Alcatraz City Cruises sells out of tickets, select third-party tour companies may have tickets that they are authorized to resell.
DiscoverTown Tours is one such third party -- an Official Tour and Travel Partner of Alcatraz City Cruises.
Alcatraz Inmates Kelly, Karpis, and Capone>
(Updated June 2023)
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Alcatraz prison is actually pretty small. Its capacity was less than 500 inmates and it never had more than about 250 inmates at a time. The spaces open for tours can’t allow too many people, and so the National Park Service has set it up to provide a positive experience by capping the number of visitors per day. It handles around 5,000 people per day during peaks and over 1 million per year, but San Francisco can see more than 25 million visitors per year -- so supply and demand issues can quickly arise.
Tickets to get inside Alcatraz prison sell out fast, often weeks in advance. The running joke asks why folks would strive so hard to get to jail.
The place has a strange aura to it. Some folks think it’s haunted. It feels a bit like a cold, dark dungeon. And it’s chock full of history. For these reasons and more, a trip to Alcatraz is quite memorable. The audio tour brings the Alcatraz alive, running like a great documentary, with sound effects and interviews while you see and feel it all.
Its reputation precedes it, and it consistently ranks among San Francisco’s most popular attractions.
If you missed the opportunity to buy directly from Alcatraz City Cruises, tour companies selling tour packages is a viable option. Note that most resellers do not have Night Tour tickets.
Resellers operate under the rules of the National Park Service and Alcatraz Cruises, particularly the requirement to only resell Alcatraz as part of a combination tour package.
Tour packages are a great way to see more of the San-Francisco Bay Area and some of the wonderful sights it has to offer. However, if some guests choose to only go to Alcatraz, no one is forced to attend the additional tour(s) included in the combination package.
If you can put tickets/packages into your shopping cart here at discovertown.com, that means we have those tickets in stock and your search is over.
Authorized resellers are able to acquire a very limited number of tickets in advance. These may be available for Alcatraz Day Tours or Night Tours.
Depending on the vendor, you may have to wait up to 48 hours to get a firm answer on availability. Some big sites like Viator, Trip Advisor, and Expedia use systems like this. Often you will be told Alcatraz tickets are actually not available. Furthermore, vendors have to pay high commissions to these companies – making the package price go up.
Smaller vendors like us pull directly from inventory. The Alcatraz tour tickets we sell are guaranteed. Once you make your purchase, the Alcatraz portion of your tour is locked in. Your Alcatraz tickets are taken from our pre-paid, limited allocation at the time of your purchase. We either have Alcatraz tickets, or we don't.
To obtain Alcatraz Tour Tickets, please follow one of the links below:
For a synposis on Tickets and Tour Packages, click here.
Alcatraz Cruises requires all purchasers over age 18 to show a photo ID that matches the name on the ticket. Alcatraz Cruises states that "visitors are required to show proof that they are the actual purchaser of a ticket, and if unable to confirm this ‘proof of purchase’ they may not be allowed on the boat." Previously reseller tickets just listed the name of the reselling company. Now all tickets include the name of the individual guest.
If StubHub or Craigslist actually has tickets, and you purchase a ticket with someone else’s name on it, your photo ID won't match the ticket.
Sold out is sold out. Previously the Alcatraz Cruises Same Day Ticket Advisory did set aside a very limited number of tickets for same day sale at 7:30 am on a first-come, first served basis. Some people would arrive at the cold, damp dock at 5:00 am. In the spring of 2019, this policy was cancelled. Alcatraz Cruises no longer has an allotment set aside for same day tickets.
It is not common for resellers to have the Night Tour.
It is more tedious to manage the very small daily maximum for the Night Tour, and tour companies typically don’t want to deal with it. So much so, that competitors have misstated that the Night Tour is only available directly from Alcatraz Cruises. That isn’t accurate.
Yes, often, but for July and August, 2023, we do not have them. We think it’s a great tour that makes a great niche, so we specialize in Night Tour packages during non-peak periods. It’s a superb tour in high demand. It takes roughly 3 hours and is far less crowded than the day tour, and it includes presentations not available during the day. If you are looking for ghosts, people swear by the night tour. At the very least, the feeling is entirely different, and generally speaking, your fellow travelers on the Night Tour are more enthusiastic about the overall experience.
Review the Alcatraz Night Tour description tab on any Alcatraz Night Tour Package here on DiscoverTown.com. This tour sells out well in advance of the day tour.
We do not sell the Alcatraz Behind The Scenes Tour. We know of no reseller that does. To our knowledge, these are sold only through AlcatrazCruises.com, and they sell out many, many weeks in advance.
To be clear, some of our packages include a second boat ride (Bay Cruise with Blue and Gold Fleet), but the round trip to Alcatraz Island and inside the prison is the core of all of our combination packages.
If you search for other third-party combo packages, do ensure that the primary thing is a ticket that indeed goes to the dock and disembarks at Alcatraz Island. Some tour company web sites can be confusing or misleading, and you could end up with a Bay Cruise around Alcatraz plus a city tour – which would not get you on “the rock.”
Bay Cruises are often underrated. Going under the Golden Gate Bridge is inspiring. The air is brisk and fresh, the views are fabulous, and it has that feel of a mini-adventure. Kids love it.
With Blue and Gold Fleet, there are snacks and adult beverages available to keep your party happy. Given the premium prices of third-party packages, a singular Bay Cruise is a fair option.
Other options to tour San Francisco Bay include Sunset Cruises, a sailing catamaran, a large capacity speedboat or local fishing boats leaving from Jefferson street (between Taylor and Jones Streets).
This language is a little unclear. Alcatraz City Cruises is indeed the only provider of ferry service to Alcatraz Island. They are the source of the ferry service. So you need an Alcatraz City Cruises ticket. They are the Official Concessionaire to the National Park Service. But they are not the only sellers of their tickets.
So cityexperiences.com/san-francisco/city-cruises/alcatraz/ is the Official Website. Iit is easier to enter their old URL, AlcatrazCruises.com, and that will redirect to cityexperiences.com. We are an Authorized Reseller of Alcatraz City Cruises, guided by their policies for Tour & Travel Operators.
They also say "Don't be fooled by unauthorized sellers..." but they don't immediately explain that they give select companies authorization for resale. If you go to Alcatraz City Cruises' FAQ page and find “FAQ's About 3rd Party Ticket Sales” you will see that they do authorize resale under restricted conditions, including tour packages.
The uphill climb is roughly a quarter mile rising the equivalent of 13 stories. The hill is steep in parts. It has flat sections and benches for you to catch your breath if needed. You’ll probably stop for photos too. If someone in your party will have legitimate trouble making the climb, scroll down to learn wheelchair and mobility issues.
Alcatraz Day Tours usually take 2-2.5-3 hours total time. The audio presentation inside the prison runs about 50 minutes. Boats leave the island every 30 minutes; you decide when to leave. Night Tours are on a set return schedule and the total time is just about 3 hours.
Art, History, or Social Exhibits on Alcatraz may also lengthen your stay. Currently there are two:
The Big Lockup: Mass Incarceration in the United States, which ties Alcatraz to the America’s position as the world leader in incarceration, with 2.3+ million people behind bars – investigating race, education, and poverty among other issues; and Red Power On Alcatraz which highlights the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz by Native American activists – and many of the ongoing issues to which they called attention.
During the day, there may be a queue to get on a return boat. You may not be able to get on a boat right away if enough people are in line before you. Then you may have to wait another 30 minutes for the next boat.
Figure 2.5 hours generally, but if you embrace all the exhibits and meander through the garden, it will take at least 3 hours.
The official tickets always include the Cell House Audio Tour in 11 languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). DiscoverTown Tours sells this ticket.
For more details on the cell house audio and the island experience, click on the Alcatraz description tab once you are viewing any Tour Package page on this site.
Upon purchase for all products, you can save or print your Voucher. We will also send you a duplicate email-based Voucher. The Voucher confirms all reservations and includes instructions for taking a tour(s).
We recommend that you download the Voucher. Regardless, you should receive a duplicate email with the word "Voucher" in the subject line. This should come within 2 hours after seeing your purchase confirmation (showing a 5-digit order number). If you do not obtain a Voucher, please check your junk or spam box... Then if another copy is needed, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get one out asap.
Note that there is no bar code or pdf attachment in the email, so you do not need to search for one. THE EMAIL IS THE VOUCHER.
Although this website is open for business 24/7, we have a set number of tickets, so we advise that you make your purchase quickly to guarantee that we will have tickets for your desired date and time.
Our monthly allotment of Alcatraz is limited, so we may sell out of our small stock, especially during peak periods.
And within ten days before departure, we can't help.
No. You must get yourself to Pier 33 at least 30 minutes before the ferry departure time.
Alcatraz tour departures are time-specific and date-specific. The schedule departures we offer cannot be changed. Occasionally we may have referrals that might offer a different time.
NO RESERVATIONS ARE NEEDED for these tours.
YOU CHOOSE when to activate your Voucher: any time/day before Alcatraz…
This may be in the afternoon once you have completed Alcatraz… or possibly in the morning before the Night Tour (if you give yourself sufficient leeway)... or any time/day after Alcatraz.
We recommend the hop-on-hop-off tour for another day, when you have no major commitments in the evening.
You must get yourself to Fisherman's Wharf (Pier 43&1/2) for the Bay Cruise or get yourself to Union Square (Geary & Powell Streets) or Fisherman's Wharf (99 Jefferson Street) for the Hop-On-Hop-Off.
Yes, sometimes we can make referrals. Typically for the Day Tour, but possibly for the Night Tour. If the Alcatraz date you seek is unavailable, but more than four (4) days away, check out our Referral page. If we have referral dates that can help you, then Contact us for possible referral.
IF YOU ARE SEEKING TICKETS WITHIN 4 DAYS OF DEPARTURE, CALLING OR EMAILING US WON'T HELP. SORRY.
The ¼-mile walking road on Alcatraz is steep, equivalent to a 13-story rise over that distance. But the SUSTAINABLE EASY ACCESS TRANSPORTATION (S.E.A.T.) tram is there for guests with mobility issues.
This tram is available roughly twice per hour. It runs from runs from the Alcatraz Island dock to the Cellhouse ... and back down to the dock. It has retractable ramps that allow for both manual and power wheelchairs.
Once at the prison, inside the Cellhouse there is an elevator.
Boarding S.E.A.T. is on a first come, first served basis. Guests with mobility issues using this tram may be accompanied by one other person in their group, space permitting.
Groups can meet up at the Cellhouse or the Alcatraz Island dock. S.E.A.T. is not for mobile children/strollers.
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