Ferries: The Experience and Destination

Ferries: The Experience and Destination

Manhattan’s very first ferry service dates back to 1642. During this time Dutch settlers working for the Dutch West India Company inhabited the villages of Amsterdam (Manhattan) and Breukelen (Brooklyn). An industrious innkeeper and farmer, Cornelius Dircksen, began the ferry to earn extra money. He would stop whatever he was doing when someone would sound the horn he hung from a tree, and take them across the New York Harbor to Breukelen.

Today, ferry voyages are both practical for commuters, and pleasurable for tourists and city dwellers looking to enjoy one of New York City’s most beautiful natural resources. From free 25-minute jaunts to hours-long adventurous excursions, the ferries of New York City offer something for everyone.

Waterfront Communities Throughout The Boroughs

New York City’s newest ferry service, NYC Ferry, offers passengers several routes to many waterfront communities throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and The Bronx (in 2018). Their sleek fleet of ships are fuel efficient, safe, and offer charging stations, wifi, and social media perks through their custom app.

Operated by the upscale sightseeing cruise line Hornblower, this new service is a favorite among commuters and day-trippers offering many stops along the East River from Astoria all the way South to Bay Ridge, with continuing service to Rockaway – all at the price of a subway ride.

Destinations To Governor’s Island And NJ

NY Waterway offers a 10-minute ferry ride from Battery Maritime Building at the Southernmost tip of Manhattan to nearby Governor’s Island. This island in New York Harbor is open every year from May through October and offers a peaceful break from the commotion of Manhattan. Tickets are a mere couple of dollars during the week, and actually free until 11:30 am on weekends. If Governor’s Island’s 170+ acres of lush greens, bike paths, recreational activities, historical buildings, and events aren’t enough for you, hop aboard another ferry to nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park (weekends only).

NY Waterway also offers routes along the Hudson River between Manhattan and various points in New Jersey. These ferries are a favorite among commuters and visitors alike looking for a relaxing and reliable alternative to driving through traffic, or other modes of public transportation.

Staten Island

Featured in many movies – most notably the opening sequence in the 1988 film Working Girl, starring Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith – the Staten Island Ferry has been in operation since 1906, boarding 65,000 passengers daily, and 1.5 million annually.

The ferry offers round-the-clock free service every day of the year from South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan to St. George Terminal in Staten Island, with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island along the way. With museums, shops, great restaurants and the historic St. George theatre, there’s plenty to do in downtown Staten Island when you depart.

Liberty State Park

From the World Financial Center Terminal on the Lower West Side of Manhattan, the Liberty Landing Ferry departs every 30 minutes. After stopping in Jersey City, you will arrive at your final destination – Liberty State Park, in New Jersey. This open green space has miles of walkways and plenty of natural resources for many activities such as biking, fishing, picnicking, as well being the home to the Liberty Science Center and the Interpretive Center. When you are done with all that Liberty State Park has to offer, you can hop aboard another ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.

Iconic NYC Landmarks

NY Water Taxi has many ferries that run throughout the day and evening featuring spectacular views of favorite tourist destinations around Manhattan. Get a great look at the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, the 911 Memorial, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. See everything you want within a 70-minute ride from the comfort of your seat. Or, set your own timetable, and get on and off throughout the day at any of NY Water Taxi’s six ports as much as you like.  

Statue Of Liberty

Everyone should take a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island at least once in their lives. Statue Cruises makes it easy, with frequent departures both from Battery Park in Manhattan, and Liberty State Park in NJ. Statue Cruises offers not only passage to these historic landmarks but guaranteed access to the Lady Liberty’s crown and pedestal, provided you book in advance.

New York Harbor In Any Weather

Circle Line Cruises has been offering their passengers great views in and around New York Harbor since 1945. They proudly proclaim that they are the only fleet in the area dedicated to sightseeing cruises, and as such, offer comfortable seating, extra-large windows, and magnificent views in all kinds of weather, year-round.

They feature a wide variety of outings such as their Landmark Cruises, Harbor Lights, Best of NYC, Happy Hour cruises and more. Splurge for an upgrade on select cruises for VIP service to make your trip even more enjoyable with express boarding, at-seat wait service, upgraded seats, a shaded waiting area, and even a free cookie!

A Trip Beyond

If you want to venture out beyond Manhattan’s shores, Sea Streak ferry services (a favorite among NJ-to-NYC commuters) offers seasonal catamaran voyages to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, the beaches of Sandy Hook, NJ, Rhode Island and more.

Their fall foliage cruises are a great way to spend the day taking in perfect autumnal vistas along the Palisades and Hudson River. Whether you opt to depart for a trip into a picturesque New York village for lunch or stay on board for a relaxing brunch, you will delight in the natural beauty of the season and region.

Look for next week’s blog, “What to Watch for on the Hudson.”