1398 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA
www.alcatrazcruises.com/inde… - (415) 981-7625
Alcatraz Cruises San Francisco Reviews
Alcatraz by night is special Oct 04, 2010
When we were in San Francisco we decided that a visit to Alcatraz was a must. We checked out the available tours on the web and decided that a night tour was for us. The tour is slightly more expensive than the day tour at $35 per adult compared to $28, but we thought this represented pretty good value. This includes a mini cruise around Alcatraz and a tour of the island and it's buildings.
There are two night tour time slots available and when we were there in October these were at 6.10 pm and 6.45, although I guess these times may change in the summer months. We chose the 6.10 tour as we figured the sun would just be setting at that time and we may get some spectacular views of the sunset over the island from the boat. As it happened our timings were just about right and the sun started setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge as we circuited the island on the 'Island Flyer'.
The boat leaves from Pier 33 at the Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco. The tour starts with the boat completing a full circuit of the island with an on board commentary describing the sights and providing some history. The boat then docks at Alcatraz and the passengers disembark onto the island. There is a rather steep climb up a path to the prison building and while walking you can't help but think that these were the same steps the prisoners took as they made their way to the cells.
Once inside the building headsets are issued and a recorded commentary is played throughout the tour. This commentary, which is narrated by a mix of ex cons and guards, describes the prison and gives information about some of the infamous prisoners, about events such as the 'Great Escape', and about attempts at mutiny by the prisoners. The commentary can be paused at any time so that visitors can take the tour at their own pace.
Some of the cells have been laid out in a way that they would have been when this was a working prison. It is very notable that there is very little room and no privacy whatsoever in the cells.
There is a mock up of the 'Great Escape' in the actual cell in which the escape took place. The narrow service area behind the cells through which the prisoners escaped is also visible.
There are information boards dotted around the tour giving further information about the prison, it's routines, and the characters who made this place home.
Part of the tour takes visitors outdoors and it was from here that as darkness fell, and the lights of San Francisco sparkled it was easy to see why it must have been so psychologically difficult for the prisoners with that beautiful city so tantalisingly close and yet so out of reach.
We finished off buying a couple of interesting books in the shop, and by the time we were done we had spent a couple of hours on the island. We found the whole thing completely fascinating and well worth the 35 bucks.
After completing the tour we certainly hadn't changed our opinion about this being a 'must do' for anyone visiting San Francisco. For that reason I have classified this as highly recommended.
Part of the Our American Adventure 2010 travel blog
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