Many years ago, the Miller Boatline began as a humble fishing charter as well as ice business. Since then, has evolved into a ferry line for passengers, cars and freight. But even further, it is a way of life for anyone who chooses island living. Miller Ferry is the main artery between the mainland and the islands of Put-in-Bay and Middle Bass. As soon as you board the ferry and travel across Lake Erie, you will understand why a ferry route is known as “the most poetic of roads”.
The Jet Express is a series of four high-speed passenger-only catamarans on Lake Erie. They travel from the mainland to Put-in-Bay village on South Bass Island and Kelley’s Island. The Jet Express departs from multiple location for your convenience, including downtown Port Clinton and Sandusky, Ohio. Providing enjoyable, direct service to downtown Put-in-Bay and Kelley’s Island has been their goal.
When people envision their Put-in-Bay vacations, they don’t often think about the ferry rides as anything more than transport. But think about some of the great trips you’ve been on in your life. Some of the most memorable moments can occur on the journey. The ferry to Put-in-Bay is no exception. For some family outings, it’s the first time the kids have ever been out on the water. You’ll see their eyes wide, watching the mist spray out from the sides of the ferry and the seagulls queuing up in the wake. To this day, the ferry ride remains one of my favorite things about Put-in-Bay.
There are two main ferries that will get you to Put-in-Bay, each with their own different features that will determine which is right for you. First thing’s first, if you intend to bring a vehicle over to the island, you’ll need to take the Miller Ferry. The Miller Ferry is the only way to transport a car to Put-in-Bay. If you need to get to or from the island later than about 9 P.M., you’ll need to take the Jet Express. The Jet Express runs about 2-3 hours later than the Miller on any given day. Schedules for both ferries are of course available on the Miller Ferry and Jet Express websites, so I’ll tell you about some of the other differences to consider here.
The Miller Ferry is the less expensive option of the two. Adult tickets cost $7.50 per person one way, and children 6-11 cost $1.50 one way. Younger children are free. It costs $2.00 to bring a bicycle, $16.00 to bring a motorcycle and $17.00 to bring a car. These fees are in addition to passenger tickets. There are additional costs for bringing a trailer attached to your vehicle based on footage.
During the season there are trips every half hour from each end. The Miller Ferry mainland dock is located in Catawba, and directions to the dock are available on the Miller Ferries website.
The most important factors about the Jet Express to remember is that they cannot transport vehicles, however they run much later than the Miller Ferry. The Jet is the pricier option of the two, at $17.00 per person. A children’s ticket is $7.50. In exchange for this expense, the Jet Express offers some amenities that the Miller Ferry does not.
The Jet Express has cushioned, individual seats, as opposed to the Miller’s bench-style seating. They also have employees on hand to help with luggage. If you want to get a jump start on your Put-in-Bay fun weekend, you will find a bar on the mainland side of the Jet for a pre-ferry cocktail.
The Jet Express departs from both Port Clinton and Sandusky on the mainland, with the trip to the island being 25 and 45 minutes respectively. Directions to both of these docks can be found on the Jet Express website.
You can’t go wrong with either of these ferry services. If you’re bringing kids, I recommend the Miller, so they can experience standing at the edge looking over the rails at the lake. I still remember my first ferry ride doing so. Or maybe a pre-ride adult beverage can be the launch pad for a a great Put-in-Bay weekend. In that case, visit the Jetbar before hopping on the Jet Express. The bottom line is both of these ferries have been in action for a long time, and do what they do very well. And either way, at the end of the journey is our precious jewel in Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay Ohio!