My husband and I recently took Blue and Gold Fleet's Alcatraz tour while visiting from Arizona. Before the tour, we browsed around the large gift shop and used the restrooms. The gift shop was nice and good-sized. The bathrooms, however, were absolutely disgusting, both the men's and women's. I heard an anxious mother exhorting her young daughter to ""hover"" while I was using the restroom. I don't know if the bathrooms are the responsibility of the Pier personnel or the Fleet, but they were bad.\r
We had a hard time figuring out where we turned in our tickets to board the boat, and the gift shop personnel couldn't tell us, either, since they said they were a different company (not to mention I could barely understand their broken English, but that was par for the course while we were in San Fran). We finally realized that we had to get in line by the dock and then turn our tickets in right before we boarded.\r
The boat ride went fine. The hike up to the cellhouse from the dock was definitely a climb! I recommend bringing some water and snacks with you.\r
The audio recording we listened to while touring sometimes went too fast, and other times too slow, so my hubby and I went back through after we finished. There were some rude people talking too loudly while we were trying to listen to our headsets, and other rude people who would stand in the open cells much longer than they should have been, but that was no surprise. I was very upset to discover some litter in the cellhouse, such as gum wrappers on the window ledges. This is living history, people, try to respect it! That's America for you nowadays....no respect for history. /grumble grumble/\r
There was much construction going on when we were there. I recommend waiting until the fall of this year to tour it if you can.\r
Being on the island itself was amazing. Fog rolled in and really lended to the ambiance. I highly recommend going, and I'll be going back again!
Cons: Nasty bathrooms, staff not the friendliest, rude tourists