The Staten Island Ferry is an easy way to get from Manhattan to Staten Island. But more than just a means of transport, these bright orange boats allow you to get up close with the famous Statue of Liberty and the city's most famous skyscrapers. And best of all, it won't cost you a single dollar!
So if you haven't yet decided what to do in New York during your stay, I highly recommend adding a visit to the Statue of Liberty with the Staten Island ferry to your list.
The history of STATEN ISLAND FERRY
This ferry links the southern tip of Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry trip between these two places has been possible since 1817. At that time, the ferry was white, and the trip cost 5 cents. It was only much later that the boats took on their typical orange colour, to be more visible on foggy days. Up until a few years ago, the fare was set at 50 cents, but the city of New York finally decided to allow everyone to enjoy these rides for free.
Today, these ferries make about 100 trips a day and carry more than 20 million passengers a year. These include, of course, a large number of tourists, but also New Yorkers who travel from the island to work in Manhattan every day. There’s a total of 9 ships for all these trips.
Why am I telling you about this ferry?
Simply because it is possible for you to see the Statue of Liberty during your stay, all without booking a guided tour or paying a single dollar 😊
By taking the Staten Island Ferry, you will pass quite close to the Statue of Liberty, and you will also be able to take pictures – all for free. This cruise lasts about 20 minutes, so you can easily make the round trip in about an hour, which will allow you to see the Statue of Liberty quite closely twice.
STATEN ISLAND ferry schedule and crossing time
The ferries run every day of the year, day and night. For New Yorkers, the ferry is really just another public transport option, and there is no need to book a ticket.
The crossing takes 20 to 30 minutes,, and don’t rush to get on board: the ferries are huge and can transport a lot of passengers at once.
During the week, there is always at least one ferry running every half hour. If you really want to see the exact timetable, you can check the official website.
But don't worry, there are ferries available ALL the time 🙂
During peak hours (between 07:30 am - 09:30 am and 5 pm - 7 pm on weekdays), there is even a ferry scheduled to leave every 15 minutes.
On Saturdays and Sundays, from 03:30 am to 06:30 am, only one ferry is scheduled every hour.
For the rest of the day and during the night, there are trips every half hour.
Boarding the STATEN ISLAND Ferry
In order to board the ferry, you will need to go to the WhiteHall Terminal, which is located in New York Harbor near Battery Park, in Lower Manhattan. To reach this ferry terminal, you can take the New York Subway on lines 1 or R, and stop at South Ferry Station.
There, an escalator will bring you to the dock to wait for the next ferry to arrive. If you are not sure which way to go, just follow the crowd to the right place. Even if a lot of people are trying to board, don't worry – the ferries are very large, and the largest ships in the fleet can accommodate up to 5,200 passengers on one trip.
As such, you'll have no trouble getting onboard the ferry fairly quickly. As you will no doubt notice, it's mostly the tourists who are a bit restless when they board, but New Yorkers are much calmer and know they'll arrive at their destination without any problem.
The ships are large enough to carry a lot of people. Moreover, once you have passed the boarding terminal, you can be assured that the ship will not leave without you, so there is no need to stress. It's also worth noting that these boats are so large and wide that swell will not be a concern at all – even for those who suffer from sea sickness.
How to get the best view?
If you want to have the best view possible, quietly let most of the passengers go before you on the outward trip, and stay on the outside platform at the back of the ship. As soon as the journey starts, you'll be able to enjoy an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline and all the tall buildings in New York's financial district, such as the One World Trade Center.
Once you are a little further away from Lower Manhattan, you can go to the right side of the ship, to get the best angle to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Then, if you go to the ferry’s left side and follow the direction of travel, you will also be able to see the New York Bay and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.. Additionally, this will also put you in the perfect position to disembark quickly.
For the return journey, if you want to once again enjoy the best view, you will have to position yourself so that you can quickly board the ferry. The front of the boat will offer the best view of the New York Bay and the Statue of Liberty coming closer as you advance. The return journey is also the best time to take great photos. From the front of the ship, you can capture the scenery without the ship's wake showing up in your shots.
THE INTERIOR IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE EXTERIOR
In addition to all these great views of New York City, don't forget that the ferry itself is worth your attention. Feel free to take the time to walk along the decks of the ship to discover it in detail. The Staten Island Ferry is truly a typical New York City boat, bringing together amazed tourists and jaded locals both, and where you can perfectly soak up the unique atmosphere of the city that never sleeps.
What to do when you get to STATEN ISLAND ?
Once you arrive on Staten Island, you'll see that many tourists rush to get back on board and head back to Manhattan. Don't hesitate to take your time instead, and enjoy the waterfront. Especially on a clear day – you will have a magnificent view of the New York bay.
On site, you can also visit the Postcards Memorial. This outdoor sculpture pays tribute to the 274 islanders killed in the 9/11 attacks. This quiet, peaceful seaside location is located on St George's Esplanade – just a short walk away from the ferry terminal.
While on Staten Island, you can also visit Saint George, the island's historic district. In this small-town neighbourhood, you won't find big streets and lots of tourists, but rather wooden houses and gardens with American flags flying in the wind. You'll find it hard to believe that you're only minutes away from all of New York’s hustle and bustle.
Your visit to Staten Island can also be a good opportunity to do some shopping. Indeed, since 2019 an Empire Outlets shopping centre has opened on the island. These "Outlets" are actually factory outlets, where you can get great deals on clothing, shoes and fashion accessories. The little plus of shopping there is that from the outdoor aisles of this mall, you will also enjoy another breathtaking view of the Skyline.
You've reached the end of this article on the Staten Island ferry! I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful 😊