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NYC Ferries: A Visitor's Guide on How to Ride

Updated: January 17, 2024

When planning a trip to NYC, you may want to include a ferry ride in your itinerary. 

Not only are they a fantastic way to see the city from the water, but in some cases, a convenient means of transportation as well.

This post explains New York City’s different ferry services, including destinations, how to take them, prices, how to save money on tickets and more.

As local tour guides, we’ve taken these ferries many times and we share our insights below. 

We also include some suggestions from members of our popular New York City Travel Tips Facebook group.

Our group of over 200k members consists of locals, regular visitors, and newbies to NYC, who all love to share their experiences with others.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So check out the group after you've read this post!


OVERVIEW

Several ferry services in New York City will take you to some of the most popular sites in the city.

While some ferries are free to take, the price of tickets for others ranges from $4-$20 or more.

Taking one of the ferry services to a specific destination (rather than a taxi or driving yourself) can save you quite a bit of money.

But if your goal is to see the sights rather than using an inexpensive means of transportation, you may want to consider a sightseeing cruise.

We cover these cruise options in our boat tours and cruises section below.


Can You Use a MetroCard on NYC Ferries?

No, MetroCards are either not accepted or not needed, as some, such as the Staten Island Ferry, are free to take.

See our post on which MetroCard to buy to find out what forms of transportation do accept MetroCards.


COMMUTER FERRIES

NYC Ferry 

This commuter ferry (previously called the East River Ferry) travels along the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

This is an especially popular option for workers in NYC, as it’s a quick and efficient way to get to and from work.

Ferries can be packed with New Yorkers commuting to work during rush hours, so it may not be the most comfortable ride for tourists. But there are some distinct benefits to traveling by the New York Ferry.

Aside from avoiding traffic in the city, the ferry is very affordable. At $4 a ride, the cost isn't much more than the subway and the ferries offer a prettier view.

Also, there are some nice amenities -- you can purchase snacks onboard, recharge your smartphone and use the free Wi-Fi.


Ticket Prices

  • $4/One-way ticket
  • $27.50/10-Trip Pass
  • $1.35/Seniors, People with disabilities
  • Kids under 44 inches ride free

How to Purchase Tickets

Tickets are available through a few different methods, making it very convenient to purchase them.

The easiest option is simply to download the NYC Ferry app and purchase a ticket on your smartphone. You then show your phone to the deckhand when boarding the ferry.

Alternatively, you can buy your ticket on their website, but you will still need to download the NYC Ferry app and show your smartphone when boarding.

If you do not have a smartphone or prefer hard tickets, you can purchase tickets from the vending machines located at every NYC Ferry stop.

Finally, if you want to avoid using a smartphone or machine entirely, you can purchase tickets from a ticket agent on board each ferry or at the ticket booth at the Pier 11/Wall St. dock.


NYC Ferry Routes and Maps

There are currently 6 year-round NYC Ferry routes and there are more routes in the works, including a route from Wall Street to Coney Island.

In the summer, an additional route is added that goes to Governor’s Island.

These are the routes, with all their stops listed beneath their names. Click on the map above for route schedules.

  • East River Route
    • Midtown East
    • Brooklyn Navy Yard
    • DUMBO
    • Wall Street
  • Astoria (Queens) Route
    • Roosevelt Island
    • Long Island City
    • Midtown East
    • Brooklyn Navy Yard
    • Wall Street
  • South Brooklyn Route
    • Wall Street
    • DUMBO
    • Atlantic Avenue
    • Sunset Park
    • Bay Ridge
  • Rockaway (Brooklyn) Route
    • Wall Street
    • Sunset Park
    • Rockaway
  • Soundview (the Bronx) Route
    • Wall Street
    • Uptown Manhattan
    • Soundview
  • St. George Route
    • St. George Staten Island
    • Battery Park City
    • Midtown West
  • Shuttle Bus Service
    • East 34th street
    • Rockaway

More information on routes and maps can be found here.


NY Waterway 

Also known as the Hudson River Ferry, this commuter ferry travels between Manhattan and New Jersey.

Not only is this an excellent service for commuters, but it is also useful to those staying in hotels in New Jersey just across the river from NYC.

This is a far more reliable service than the NJ Transit Bus, so if you’re planning to travel between New Jersey and Manhattan, you may want to consider the NY Waterway ferry.

However, the cost of this service is more expensive than other ferries in the area.


Ticket Prices

  • One Way: $11.25/Adults | $7.50/Kids (6-11) | $10.50/Seniors, Disabled
  • One Way tickets are free for kids 5 and under.
  • Bike Surcharge: $1.25
  • 7-Day Pass: $94.25
  • 10-Trip Pass: $103.25
  • 30-Day Pass: $345.25
  • Monthly Pass: $336.25
  • Student Pass: $274

How to Purchase Tickets

There are three ways to buy NY Waterway tickets.

There are ticket kiosks at each dock where you can purchase tickets in person.

Also, you can buy tickets online from their website or their app. In both cases, you must use your smartphone as your ticket.


NY Waterway Routes and Maps 

There are five NY Waterway routes. Beneath the map, we list each route and its stops.

Click on the map for route schedules.


  • Midtown/West 39th Street
    • Edgewater Landing
    • Port Imperial
    • Lincoln Harbor
    • Hoboken
    • Harborside
    • Paulus Hook
    • Belford
  • Brookfield Place/Battery Park
    • Port Imperial
    • Hoboken
    • Harborside
    • Paulus Hook
    • Belford
  • Pier 11/Wall Street
    • Port Imperial
    • Hoboken
    • Paulus Hook
    • Liberty Harbor
    • Belford
  • NY Haverstraw
    • Ossining
  • NY Newburg
    • Beacon

Staten Island Ferry

Below is a summary of the Staten Island Ferry. Click here for our in-depth post.

This free commuter ferry offers one of the best views of the New York skyline. You ride right by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island too.

The ferry departs from Whitehall Terminal located south of Battery Park and the ride to Staten Island is approximately 25 minutes.


Staten Island Ferry Schedule

The Staten Island ferry runs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. You can ride it day and night. Night rides are quite beautiful.

The schedule is easy to understand.  The ferries run every 30 minutes, on the hour and half-hour (so, 12:00, 12:30, 1:00, 1:30).   

Staten Island Ferry Schedule

There is one exception. During weekday rush hours, the ferries run every 15 minutes.

Rush hours are 6:00 am until 9:30 am and 3:30 pm until 8:00 pm.

We recommend that you check the schedule and their website for any changes and updates.


Audio Tour

Be sure to download our free Staten Island Ferry audio tour to accompany you on your cruise.

We have created a GPS-led audio tour to accompany you on your ride to Staten Island and back.

Have one of our tour guides show you what you are seeing from the ferry.

Here's a sample of what you will hear.

Download it now. $2.99

Once at Staten Island, you can get off the ferry and explore the island, or get back on the ferry and head back to Manhattan.

Since the Staten Island Ferry operates 24 hours a day, riding the ferry is a fantastic thing to do at night as the city sparkles after dark and the views are extra special.

Riding the ferry before or after our Lower Manhattan Tour is a great way to spend half a day without spending half your budget!

We also have a GPS-enabled audio tour of Lower Manhattan which can be used day or night.

Read our post on how to take the Staten Island Ferry for details.


New York Water Taxi

The New York Water Taxi has four stops in NYC: Midtown Manhattan, Battery Park (in Lower Manhattan), South Street Seaport (near Wall Street), and DUMBO (in Brooklyn).

New York Water Taxi

While the Water Taxi is a quick way to travel between the above locations, it is quite expensive, certainly in relation to the NYC Ferry described above.

However, you are paying for a one-day pass for unlimited Water taxi rides between 10 am and 5 pm, as opposed to just a one-way ticket on the NYC Ferry.

This means that you can use the Water Taxi as a “hop-on-hop-off” service,  making it somewhat more worth the price.

If you are only taking one ride, this is not the best option.

Water Taxi one-day passes are valid from 10 am - 5 pm. The passes cost $40 for adults and $34 for children.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

TIP: Before purchasing a New York Water Taxi pass, note that a pass is included in several of the NYC tourist passes. If you’re planning to buy a tourist pass, no need to buy a pass!

Read our post on how New York City tourist passes can save you money on attractions and activities!


The IKEA Ferry

This ferry, as you may have guessed, travels to New York City’s only IKEA store, located in Brooklyn in the neighborhood of Red Hook.

It departs from Wall Street several times a day. You don’t need to shop at Ikea to enjoy this ferry and its great views, especially of Lower Manhattan.

It is free on weekends so why not hop on and take a 20-minute ride from Manhattan and back?

Find out more from the website.

TIP: The IKEA cafeteria has awesome views of the Statue of Liberty, free wi-fi, and cheap food!

Red Hook is a pretty cool neighborhood along Brooklyn’s waterfront, so why not explore the area as well?

Read more about Red Hook and other Brooklyn neighborhoods.


The Seastreak Ferry

This ferry company provides service from New York City and New Jersey to popular beach destinations, like Nantucket in Massachusetts.

Since they provide service to places such as Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and Sandy Hook Beach in New Jersey, ticket prices are more expensive than the other ferries listed above.

But Seastreak also has an affordable New Jersey-New York service, providing an alternative to NY Waterways.

New York-New Jersey Service

  • Highlands, NJ
  • Atlantic Highlands, NJ
  • Wall St., NY
  • East 35th St., NY

Ticket Prices

  • One Way: $28/Adults | $11/Children (Sat & Sun only)
  • Round Trip: $49/Adults | $22/Children (Sat & Sun only)
  • Ride from East 35th St. to Wall St. for only $5
  • 10 Trip Book: $230
  • 40 Trip Book: $720
  • Kids (5-12) ride free Mon - Fri.
  • Kids under 5 are always free.

Beach Routes and Prices

  • NYC to Sandy Hook Beach
    • One Way: $28/Adults | $11/Children (Sat & Sun only)
    • Round Trip: $49/Adults | $22/Children (Sat & Sun only)
    • First Departure Round Trip: $30
    • Kids (5-12) ride free Mon - Fri.
    • Kids under 5 are always free.
  • New York/New Jersey to Martha’s Vineyard
    • One-Way: $165/Adults | $75/Children
    • One-Way Holiday: $200 per person
    • Round Trip: $240/Adults | $135/Children
    • Round Trip Holiday: $310 per person
  • New York/New Jersey to Nantucket
    • One-Way: $175/Adults | $85/Children
    • One-Way Holiday: $210 per person
    • Round Trip: $260/Adults | $155/Children
    • Round Trip Holiday: $330 per person

These aren’t the only services provided by this company. See the Seastreak website to find out what other ferries they run.


STATUE OF LIBERTY FERRY

This ferry’s sole purpose is to transport people to and from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

In fact, this is the only way to get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

This means that tickets cost more than other ferries discussed in this post.

Still, the ferry is reasonably priced considering that it takes you to one of the most famous sights in the world.

You can save on tickets by purchasing a combo package that includes a visit to the Statue of Liberty. 

Also, this ferry ticket is included in several NY tourist passes, which save you money on multiple attractions.

All tickets include a round-trip ride to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. But you will have to purchase special tickets if you want more than just a trip to the island.

The ticket options are:

Ferry 

  • No access to enter the Statue of Liberty.

Ferry with Pedestal Access

  • Enter the pedestal of the statue.
  • Gain admission to the Statue of Liberty Museum.
  • See the views from the pedestal level.

Ferry with Crown Access

  • Enjoy all the benefits of a pedestal ticket.
  • See the views from the crown of Lady Liberty.

For more information about ticket prices, availability, and how to save money on this ferry, read our full post on Statue of Liberty tickets.


HOP-ON-HOP-OFF TOURIST FERRIES 

If you are in NYC as a tourist, you may want to consider a sightseeing cruise instead of a traditional ferry.

Several ferries and cruises focus more on sightseeing rather than mere transport. Most offer some form of commentary on the sights you will see as you pass them.

Some of these ferries have few, if any, stops. Others allow you to hop off and hop back on as you like, so you can explore different parts of the city

Tickets for these cruises range from $30-$40 per person, and if you choose a hop-on-hop-off cruise your ticket will be valid for at least an entire day, making it comparable to the New York Water Taxi.

Both hop-on and hop-off ferries and sightseeing cruises are included with various tourist passes, so even if you find the prices a bit higher than you would like, you can save up to 50% off prices if you have a tourist pass.

See the section below on money-saving deals.

Read our post about NYC boat tours and cruises to learn about the many options to see the city from the water.


DEALS ON TICKETS

This section lists the best ways to save money on ferries and cruises in New York City, including tourist passes, combo packages, and more.


Tourist Passes

Several of the ferry and cruise services listed in this post are included with at least one NYC tourist pass.

If you’re planning to visit a few or more popular attractions, this could be a great way to save money on tickets

The following options are available via tourist passes:

  • Statue of Liberty Ferry
  • New York Water Taxi
  • City Sightseeing Hop-on, Hop-off Cruise
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • Hornblower Cruises
  • Manhattan by Sail

There are several tourist passes to choose from, and depending on which one you choose, you can save between 20% - 50% off general admission prices.

A simple money-saving option is to build your own pass (BYOP) because you only need to purchase tickets to four different attractions to save 20% on each attraction.

If you were planning on seeing just a few of NYC’s most popular sights, including taking a sightseeing cruise, the BYOP option is a good choice.

On the other hand, if you intend to see multiple attractions, an all-inclusive pass may be the better choice for you.

These passes provide access to dozens of popular attractions for a specific number of days.

You choose the number of days, generally from 1 day up to 10 days.

These passes are best for visitors who want to see as much as possible and have the time and energy to do so! The more attractions you visit the more you save.

Another type of tourist pass allows you to pay one price for a set number of attractions (usually between 2 and 12 attractions) that costs less than if you bought each attraction ticket individually.

This kind of pass makes sense if you want to see the pricier attractions, and since many cruises and ferries are inexpensive, you won’t save much on your boat ride. Still, these passes are worth looking into for the savings you can get on other activities.

Here are some of the additional attractions and tours you can enjoy with any of the above types of passes:

  • Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Empire State Building
  • Top of the Rock
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
  • Radio City Stage Door Tour
  • Rockefeller Center Tour
  • Madison Square Garden Tour
  • Luna Park at Coney Island
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
  • Yankee Stadium Tour
  • and more!

For more information on these services, please read our post about New York City tourist passes.


Combo Packages

The City Sightseeing Hop-on, Hop-off Cruise is included in several combo packages.

These deals are an excellent way to save money for those who want to combine a sightseeing cruise with just one or two other attractions.

Here are some of the best combo deals available on cruises in New York City:

Key to the City Package - Bus, Cruise & Observatory

  • Adult $105
  • Child $99

Land and Sea Package - Big Bus & Circle Line

  • Adult $59
  • Child $55

Bargain Websites

You can almost always find ways to save money on cruise tickets, the Statue of Liberty ferry, and even the New York Water Taxi on Groupon and LivingSocial.

In addition to any regular sales, these sites frequently run special deals that give an extra 10% - 20% off and sometimes even more.

Before you make any purchases, check both the top and bottom of these websites’ pages for any additional deals to save even more money.


Tips from Locals and Travelers 

The comments below about the various ferries are from locals and tourists who are members of our popular New York City Travel Tips Facebook group.

Taking the NYC Ferry

Many people want to know how to combine a ferry ride between Manhattan and DUMBO in Brooklyn combined with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Many people chimed in with helpful suggestions.

Here, Michelle asks about getting tickets for the ferry.

Group members were happy to share this information.


Which is the best ferry to take at night to see the Manhattan skyline?

This question comes up quite frequently. Here are recommendations from both New Yorkers and visitors.

The most popular answer is the free Staten Island Ferry. Part of the appeal is that it is free, but it does truly offer amazing views at night.

Many people gave thumbs up to the Harbor Lights sightseeing cruise.

While not as frequently recommended, some people liked the NYC Ferry rides.


The Staten Island Ferry

The number one question people have about taking the free Staten Island Ferry is how it works, and in particular, if you have to get off and back on again.

In addition to answering the question, Betty recommends where to sit on the ferry for the best views.

So many people ask if the ride on the Staten Island ferry is choppy. 

If you are concerned about getting seasick, here is what some of the group members had to say about the ride.

As for the best time to take it? Here is some local advice.


Sightseeing Cruises

Many members of our Facebook group ask about sightseeing cruises and loads of people had stellar reviews of Circle Line's Harbor Lights cruise.


Questions about the Statue of Liberty Ferry

People often ask about how much time to set aside for a trip to the Statue of Liberty, with or without visiting Ellis Island.

Here are some thoughts on the matter.

If you found these comments informative, you might like to check out our Travel Tips Facebook Group!


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About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: January 17th, 2024
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