Top Ten Tips

Get the most out of your Alcatraz visit!

Few Islands in the world can boast such a glorious natural setting as Alcatraz. Located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, this iconic attraction was once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals while the federal penitentiary operated here from 1934 to 1963. Additionally, the Island was the site of the country’s first Native American occupation. Today, Alcatraz is known as one of America’s most popular landmarks.
In order to make the most of your experience visiting Alcatraz, Alcatraz Cruises and the National Park Service have some great suggestions on our official website. You can also review your cruise options and book online tickets at this site. For those that prefer a call-in option, please dial (415) 981.ROCK. Tickets are available up to 90 days in advance of your cruise.
Once you have confirmed your booking, here is a list of helpful hints:
Tour Length
Visitors can stay on Alcatraz as long as you like, but we suggest that you allow at least 3 hours for sailing to the Island, taking the Cellhouse audio tour, exploring the rest of the Island and its historic exhibits, and returning to the mainland.
Photo ID Requirements
A photo ID is required for every person who books tickets to Alcatraz Island. Photo ID’s are required when purchasing and picking up tickets at the Alcatraz Cruises ticketbooth and are also required at boarding. Customers purchasing and printing Alcatraz tickets on the website should arrive at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing, with their photo ID. Photo ID’s are not necessary for every person in the party, but are required for the person who purchased the tickets.
Luggage & Backpacks
We regret that we are unable to accommodate suitcases, large backpacks or oversized duffel bags at Pier 33 or on Alcatraz Island. Additionally, we regret that oversized luggage or packages cannot be boarded on vessels or stored at Pier 33. Bags larger than a standard backpack (16” x 20”) are not allowed on Alcatraz Island. Visitors with luggage or oversized backpacks will be unable to board Alcatraz Cruises’ vessels or visit Alcatraz Island and will receive refunds.  There are no exceptions to this regulation.
Bicycles, Skateboards, Roller Blades, Skates, “Wheelie” Shoes, Weapons
Bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, skates, “wheelie” shoes and weapons are not allowed on Alcatraz Landing or on Alcatraz Island. Limited bicycle parking can be found at Pier 33 on a first come, first served basis. Bicycles must be walked to the bike racks upon arrival at Pier 33. Alcatraz Cruises assumes no responsibility for bicycles parked on the premises.
Minors Visiting Alcatraz
Minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to visit Alcatraz Island, unless accompanied by an adult. Minors must be supervised at all times while visiting Alcatraz Island, Alcatraz Landing and while onboard Alcatraz Cruises vessels.
Service Animals
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. These service animals are allowed on Alcatraz Island and on Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. Pets nor companion animals are not allowed in either location.
Food & Beverage
Picnicking and consuming food on Alcatraz Island is allowed at the dock area from the picnic tables to the restrooms only. Bottled water is allowed on all areas of the Island. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase only on boats departing Alcatraz Island for Pier 33. Alcoholic beverages are not offered for sale on Alcatraz Cruises vessels bound for Alcatraz Island.
Walking Alcatraz
The roads and walkways on Alcatraz are steep. The distance from the dock to the Cellhouse is approximately 1/4 mile (.4km) and the elevation change is 130 feet (40 meters), the equivalent of walking up a 13-story building. The roads and walkways are wide with several places to stop along the way to rest and take in the breathtaking views, and are shared with the S.E.A.T. Tram. More information on the S.E.A.T. Tram below. Comfortable shoes are a must. Athletic or walking shoes are strongly recommended.
Suggested Attire
Due to the varying weather patterns in San Francisco, on the bay and at Alcatraz Island, it is important to dress comfortably and in layers. In addition to wearing practical footwear, as noted above, it is advisable to come prepared in casual clothing that includes a sweater/sweatshirt and warm jacket.
Sustainable Easy Access Transport (S.E.A.T.)
Visitors unable to make the climb up Alcatraz’s steep roads can take advantage of the S.E.A.T. (Sustainable Easy Access Transport) Tram, an accessible shuttle that runs twice an hour from the dock to the prison building and twice an hour from the drop off location back to the dock. Boarding the S.E.A.T. Tram is on a first come, first served basis.
We hope this information is helpful in planning your visit to Alcatraz Island with Alcatraz Cruises. These are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Alcatraz Island. For more detailed information, please visit the various sections of our website, outlined across the top of the home page. We look forward to welcoming you to Alcatraz Island soon!
Be sure to get on the social boat using our social hashtag #alcatrazcruises.