Fully updated in November ’23 – Below you’ll find all the current info and updated ticket prices.
As big fans of slow travel, Stefanie and I decided to use boats instead of interisland flights while exploring the Small Antilles for several reasons: Not only could we reduce our carbon footprint and save some money, but it also turned out to be a very scenic way to approach the islands.
The beautiful island of Dominica is served by direct ferry connections from the neighbouring islands of Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. Booking the trip can be a little confusing, though, but don’t despair: I’ll walk you through it!
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General Info on How to Reach Dominica by Boat
The ferry is operated by the French Company L’express des Iles, which offers several trip-packages depending on the weekday you’ll be travelling, as well as on how much flexibility you want in your schedule.
You can buy the tickets on the dock if you’re not sure about your plans and want to stay flexible, although when we went (February/March), the boat was pretty full, and we were glad to already have had our tickets pre-booked online.
On the other hand, rough seas occasionally cause cancellations, so being a bit more spontaneous about buying your tickets is probably not the worst idea. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll want to pre-book, depending on your travel plans and time constraints.
Dominica Ferry – Prices and Available Trip Options
Let’s check the three available packages first. Note that the prices are the same, no matter if you’re travelling between Dominica and Guadeloupe or Dominica and Martinique.
TOUPITI for 99€ Return / 59€ One-way is the cheapest option, but with this you can only use ferries going on Thursday and Saturday.
With ZEN for 119€ Return / 79€ One-way, the days don’t matter, so you can make a booking for any ferry you want.
FLEX for 139€ Return / 89€ One-way is the same as ZEN, but offers reimbursement for the paid amount of money if you can’t go.
Which of these options is the best for you mainly depends on the season you’re going, as the schedules change between seasons and ferries go much more frequently during the summer.
For example, during the months of winter choosing the TOUPITI-Option is pointless, as boats usually only leave Guadeloupe for Dominica (continuing to Martinique) on Friday and Sunday, returning on Monday and Saturday.
If travelling return between the islands, you could only use this tariff for one trip if you’re going on Saturday, which still makes the combined ZEN-Option the better choice.
This means that you have to check the schedule for when you’re planning to go and then see, if you can go on Thursday and Sunday both ways, to actually get something out of the cheapest option. In most cases, the ZEN-option seems to be the best choice.
Dominica Ferry – What’s the Schedule?
The connections change depending on the season, and unfortunately, there’s no decent schedule posted on the website of the ferry company. In general, there are at least three weekly boats going from Fort-de-France on Martinique to Roseau on Dominica and continuing on to Pointe-à-Pitre on Guadeloupe and vice versa.
The best way to find out the schedule is to specifically check the dates for the time you’re planning to go by clicking Book on any of the available tariff options on this site. You can always go back and choose a different tariff, once you know the available options.
What Can I Bring on Board?
With all tariff options, you’re allowed one bag (max. 25kg) per Person, which has to be checked and, as on flights, must not contain any flammable or explosive goods. Again, as on flights, you’re not allowed to bring any anything that might be used as a weapon onboard, which includes glass bottles.
Can I Bring a Car?
You can, but it’s extortionately expensive at 459€ Return / 379€ One-way including the driver (as is bringing a motorbike at 339€ Return / 289€ One-way). So if at all possible, it’s much more sensible to just rent a car on Dominica if you need your own transportation.
How Long Does the Trip Take?
The boat trip to Roseau on Dominica takes about 2½ hours from Pointe-à-Pitre on Guadeloupe and about 2¾ hours from Fort-de-France on Martinique.
Taking the Ferry to Dominica – What to Expect
The ferry terminals are all more or less centrally located in the respective cities, which means you can easily walk there from the city centre. The check-in process can take some time, so it’s better to be there at least one hour before the scheduled departure.
The ferry has an interior cabin, where you’ll also find a small shop selling drinks and snacks. If the weather is pleasant, it’s much nicer to spend your trip on the outside deck, though, where you can enjoy the views of Dominica’s Western Coast while you approach. It’s a fitting introduction to this rugged tropical paradise.