When I first started to visit Isla Mujeres, way back in 1990, the main transportation over here was provided by wooden boats. They were far from romantic and far from comfortable. They took 45 minutes to cross. I hated them.
Then along came the fast, enclosed, modern boats. The trip was reduced to 25 minutes and it seemed like we sped over here. I think that was around 1995 or so.
Nowadays, the preferred way to cross is on the Ultramar catamaran ferries. Comfortable, modern, clean and fast. Around 20 minutes or so if we aren't fighting the wind or high waves.
A year or so ago, the powers that be allowed both ferry companies to significantly raise their rates. The caveat was that they both had to improve their boats and their service.
The Ultramar company bought all new boats. The ones that are in use now and have the blue lights that shine from underneath into the water at night.
The other company? Well, you can see from this picture what they did. A big fat nothing.
I don't think these boats have really been serviced since they were put into service. The doors don't seal properly, and on some of them, don't even close anymore. Which allows water to splash into them and on the passengers. I have heard stories where they just stop working during a crossing and have to be towed to shore. To me, scary stuff indeed.
The above picture doesn't adequately show the cloud of black smoke from burning oil which enshrouds these boats as they cross. Can you imagine sitting inside this and having to breath these fumes?! Yuk. Not to mention the pollution they are putting into the air.
The long and short of it? I think they are dangerous and I would never step foot inside one.