Although the hydrofoil whisks you across the Red Sea from Sinai to Jordan in 50 minutes, plan on several hours total travel time. We left our hotel in Nuweiba at 1:00 pm and arrived at our Aqaba hotel at 6:45 pm. Why? Because a long wait is required at both ends.
In the Nuweiba port, we waited a very long two hours for what I thought was a delayed departure (being harassed the entire time by an guide who guilted us into forking over a substantially larger tip than we'd paid him in the Sinai desert and lectured us about Egyptian propaganda). But I learned that passengers must be present with tickets in hand two hours prior to departure time. This is required for both the ferry and hydrofoil (fast boat).
The ferry terminal in Nuweiba was filthy and crowded with mostly locals. There were a series of confusing lines we were led through for customs, immigration and check-in procedures. Our guide advanced us to the beginning of each long line "because we were tourists." It made me highly uncomfortable cutting in front of staring strangers, and I don't think we gained anything by it, as the wait in the terminal was lengthy anyway. We stood on the concrete loading dock with our guide for over an hour and a half.
A one way fare on the regular ferry costs $35 US and takes three hours or longer, while the hydrofoil costs $45 US and spits you across the sea in less than an hour. Considering the long wait time at either end, ten bucks is nothing to shave off a couple hours. Tickets for the hydrofoil have to be purchased at either the Arab Bridge Maritime Company Office near the port, or from one of the ticket agents along the waterfront.
The hydrofoil provided a smooth ride by skimming across the water. We sat in unassigned seats toward the back of the enclosed vehicle, after tossing our luggage into a storage bin. Sodas and snacks were available for purchase. Other than women brazenly spraying strong perfume into the air or removing nail polish, it was an enjoyable ride looking out the windows at the Red Sea and distant shores of Saudi Arabia.
Once we reached the Jordanian port in Aqaba, we claimed our luggage which was simply thrown onto the ground, and carried it into the terminal following the crowd. There an official collected passports from all passengers and left to process them. We sat in the lounge area like everyone else, and waited an hour before they called our name. Finally, we were able to leave the port. Exiting, we walked through a gated fence where Arab officials gruffly blocked our path. It was a rather rude, unsettling entry into the otherwise friendly and hospitable country of Jordan. A mob of black taxis were waiting for business outside the fence, and it was easy to grab a ride into town for JD 5.