City officials approved a contract this week in which Amelia River Cruises would dock water taxis in St. Marys four times a day.
The agreement also guarantees that visitors stranded because of inclement weather or mechanical failure will be given transportation to where they initially boarded the boat. City officials approved the agreement with little discussion.
The agreement protects the city from being sued in case of an accident or injury, and can be canceled with a 30-day notice.
Kevin McCarthy, the owner of Amelia River Cruises, said the next step is getting a similar approval for dock space in Fernandina Beach, which he predicted will happen within two weeks.
"We're still getting permits on the other side of the (state) border," he said. "I don't expect any problems."
The 100-passenger boat must undergo safety testing by the Coast Guard, he said.
"At the beginning of next year, we should have everything in place," Mr. McCarthy said.
Until then, Mr. McCarthy is planning to use smaller boats to provide shuttle service between the two cities for special events.
A round-trip ticket between the cities should be $13 to $14 per person and the ride each way will take about 45 minutes. A guide on board will give passengers information about the history of the two cities and explain some of the ecology in the area.
Janet Brinko, St. Marys tourism director, said tourism in both cities should increase with the service.