NYC Ferry in New York
The ferries on the East River in New York, known as NYC Ferry, take you cheaply and easily to and from Manhattan. Do you want to visit Brooklyn or Queens? Or are you staying in a hotel in Long Island City? Then cross the East River on a ferry and get great views of the New York Skyline along the way. The ferries are a nice alternative to the, often busy, subway. With NYC Ferry you travel for the same price as the subway with the added benefit of the Manhattan skyline views during the journey.
NYC Ferry operates four set routes throughout the year: the East River Route, the Astoria Route, the South Brooklyn Route and the Rockaway Route. For a breakdown of these routes and their stops take a look here. There are two docks in Manhattan, one at Wall Street/Pier 11 and one on East 34th Street. In addition, there are a variety of stops in Brooklyn and Queens. Throughout the summer there is an extra, weekends only stop at Governors Island on both the South Brooklyn and East River Routes.
Tickets for NYC Ferry
You can buy tickets for NYC Ferry from the ticket machines on each dock, for $2.75 per ride. Tickets are also available via the NYC Ferry app. The cost of taking the ferry is the same as taking the subway, however, subway tickets cannot be used for the ferries. The ferry service is certainly a nice addition to the subway. Do bear in mind, though, that the boats are less frequent than the subway trains; so you may have to wait a little longer. The ferries are also commonly used by commuters. Therefore, I recommend avoiding the morning and afternoon rush hours as the rest of the day is much calmer.
Taking the NYC Ferry
On the various NYC Ferry routes you can combine travelling from A to B with sightseeing. It is really nice to sit onboard a boat whilst enjoying the view, especially in the summer. Consequently, there are some routes where I would definitely recommend taking the ferry instead of the subway, at least once.
NYC Ferry makes it easier to combine a visit to Lower Manhattan and the Financial District with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. One option is to take the South Brooklyn or the East River Ferry from Wall Street to DUMBO. From there, see the skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park and walk back over the bridge to Manhattan. Or, if you have trouble walking, you can take the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn and the ferry back. That way, you don’t need to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, but you do get the same great view.
Long Island City
If you are staying in a hotel close to the Long Island City Dock (at Gantry Plaza State Park), you can get to Manhattan faster on the Astoria Ferry than you can travelling by subway. Is your hotel closer to a subway station? Then the subway is probably quicker, but I recommend changing it up and taking the ferry at least once. You can also get from Long Island City to Roosevelt Island on the Astoria Ferry. Are you visiting Roosevelt Island from Manhattan? Then take the famous cable car there and the ferry back.
Taking a bike
If you are planning on renting a bike in New York, you can make it an extra special experience by adding a ferry ride. For example, you can pick up your bike at the Brooklyn Bridge. Then spend some time cycling the streets of Lower Manhattan before taking the bike on the ferry over to Brooklyn. This costs just $1 on top of the normal ticket price of $2.75. Cycle through Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO and ride back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. You could even make a day trip out of it and cycle from Williamsburg to Greenpoint. Then take the ferry, from there, back over to Manhattan where you can cycle through Midtown towards Central Park and return your bike there.
When you feel like having a beach day you can take the ferry from Wall Street to Rockaway Beach. In around an hour the Rockaway Ferry brings you from Manhattan to the Rockaway Beach peninsula, on the south side of Queens. It is less touristy than Coney Island but is a nice place to visit in the warm summer months, especially when combined with the relaxing boat ride.