Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Alcatraz Update

I finally had a chance to visit Alcatraz and take the new audio tour. While the old tour was good, the new tour is even better. You now enter Alcatraz as the prisoners did -- through the shower room. The tour is slightly longer; about 40 minutes. It is still narrated by former prisoners, guards, and residents. When you are done with the audio tour, you can visit the expanded book shop in the cell block.

Don't limit yourself to just touring the cell block while you are on the island. If the Agave Trail is open, take a walk along the south and east shores for beautiful views of San Francisco.

The evening tour provides a more leisurely and less crowded way to see the island. You can check availability for the evening and day tours by visiting www.alcatrazcruises.com. Be sure to book your tour in advance as they sell out. During the summer, tours may sell out two weeks in advance.

Here are some answers to questions I frequently get asked about Alcatraz:

Has anyone swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco? Yes. One prisoner made the swim and was found hanging onto rocks under the Golden Gate Bridge. He was so weak from hypothermia that he could not lift himself out of the water. Earlier this year, some men celebrated their 500th swim from San Francisco to Alcatraz. Last year, the youngest person, a nine-year-old boy, made the swim. Two years ago the first dog, with his master, made the swim.

Are there sharks in the Bay? Yes. Leopard sharks are in the Bay. They are small and will not hurt you. Great whites do not enter the Bay. They are found in the ocean and WILL hurt you.

How big is Alcatraz? The island is 12 acres.

Did anyone successfully escape from Alcatraz? During the civilian period from 1934 - 1963, no prisoners are known to have successfully escaped. Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers did escape. Their flotation devices were found; however, they have never been seen. They are presumed to have drowned. During the military period, security was not as tight and prisoners did escape.

Private tours are prohibited on Alcatraz. If you would like to plan a visit to San Francisco that includes a visit to Alcatraz, Blue Heron Custom Tours can help. For more information, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

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