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Have you ever found yourself mesmerized by the vastness of the ocean, yearning to explore new horizons while indulging in a sense of tranquility?

But maybe you don’t have the time, interest, or money for sailing or full on adventure cruising?

Ferries operate all over the world, including in urban areas, and offer a fantastic alternative to water based travel. They have deep-rooted historical and cultural significance in many regions, and some pass by iconic landmarks, offering a unique and memorable sightseeing experience (New York!).

They offer a close connection with the water and natural surroundings, and unlike other modes of transport, provide a laid-back atmosphere where you can unwind, enjoy the sea breeze, and escape the stress of everyday life.

Here’s how to master the art of ferry travel.

How to Master the Art of Ferry Travel

What is Ferry Travel?

Boat Ferry

Ferry travel is very simply, traveling by ferry; a watercraft that transports people, vehicles and cargo across bodies of water like rivers, lakes, bays, or even oceans. 

In urban areas like New York City, ferries offer a practical and efficient transport option, alleviating traffic congestion on roads. But there are ferry routes all over the world, from the United States, to the UK, Scandinavia, and Australia – you can find ferry routes worldwide on the FerryGoGo site.

Ferries will range from very simplistic, basic boats in some countries and rural regions, right up to fancy state of the art water craft with features like Wi-Fi, comfortable seating and even restaurants, shops, and entertainment facilities. 

Ferries operate on scheduled routes though, and services can range from short trips across a river to longer journeys that can span several hours or even days, depending on the distance and destination. 

As such, here are a few tips for navigating ferry travel.

Get There Early

Ferry female traveler RF

Getting to the ferry terminal early will help you avoid the last-minute rush and give you time to find your way around. 

In many places, ferries are the preferred method of transport for the local community, and some scheduled routes can be particularily packed (I’m talking about you Staten Island ferry).

Add in tourism on top of local demand, and we recommend trying to arrive at least arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time.

Now, if there are ferries leaving every 10 minutes, you probably need less of a buffer, but check the schedule in advance, so you know when the next one is. Some ferries only service certain routes once a day, others might have them every half hour.

Know the Terminal Layout

Staten Island Ferry NYC RF

Just as airports range in sizes, so do ferry terminals. Some may be small boat ports which are impossible to miss. Others might be as big and confusing as a small city.

If a terminal is quite big, it’s likely that they have the digital presence to have their layout uploaded online, so check first if the terminal itself has a website. Some even have an app which helps you navigate where to go.

When you get to the terminal, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the layout. This will help you avoid getting lost when you’re trying to board your ferry. Most terminals have clearly marked signs and maps that can help orient you.

Have Documents Ready

Research in advance whether you need any documents, and make sure you have them all ready before you get in line to board the FerryGoGo.

Are you crossing a border on your route? Do you need a passport? Photo ID? Printed copy of your reservation?

Make sure you don’t get stuck without the required documentation, otherwise you may not be allowed to board.

How to Choose the Right Route for Your Trip

Gordon River Cruises Strahan Tasmania

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right route for your trip. The first is the distance you are travelling.

If you’re travelling a long distance, you’ll want to make sure the route you choose is direct and doesn’t have any stops along the way.

The second thing to consider is the time of day you’re travelling. Some routes may be faster during certain times of day, so it’s important to check the schedules before you book your tickets.

You’ll want to consider your budget when choosing a route. Some routes may be more expensive than others, so it’s important to compare prices before making your final decision.

Tips for a Smooth Ferry Experience

Plan ahead. Make sure you know the schedule and routes of the ferry system you’ll be using, so you can plan your travel accordingly.

Allow extra time. Ferries can sometimes run behind schedule, so it’s always a good idea to give yourself some extra time when planning your trip.

Be prepared for weather conditions. If you’re travelling during bad weather, make sure you dress appropriately and have any necessary items with you (umbrella, raincoat, etc.).

Have your tickets ready. When boarding the FerryGoGo, have your tickets out and ready to go to avoid any delays.

Follow directions from staff members. They know the ins and outs of the ferry system and will be able to help you if you need it.

Different Ferry Types and Destinations

Gordon River Cruises Strahan Tasmania

Passenger Ferries: These ferries transport people and their vehicles between two points. They are typically used for short trips, such as between islands or across rivers.

Cargo Ferries: These ferries transport goods and materials between two points. They are often used for longer trips, such as between countries or continents.

High-Speed Ferries: These ferries travel at high speeds and are typically used for shorter trips, such as between islands or across rivers.

Luxury Ferries: These ferries offer a more luxurious experience, with features such as restaurants, bars, and cabins. They are often used for longer trips, such as between countries or continents.

Prepping for a Ferry Trip, What to Pack

Shell Backpack by Tropicfeel

Assuming you’re packing for a day trip: 

  1. A small backpack or bag to put your things in 
  2. Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses if it’s sunny out 
  3. Jacket or sweater if it’s cold 
  4. Comfortable shoes 
  5. Snacks and drinks 
  6. Entertainment for the ride such as books, magazines, cards, etc. 
  7. Camera!

With the right preparation and knowledge, ferry travelling can be an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Taking the time to research your route, ensuring you are well prepared for any eventuality, packing essential items and being sure to book your tickets in advance should all help make your journey smoother.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time sailor, we hope that these tips have helped to get you started on mastering the art of FerryGoGo traveling. Bon voyage!

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. The way you described the allure of ferry travel is spot on. There’s something mesmerizing about the close connection you feel with the water and nature around you. It’s like entering a world where time slows down, and you can truly unwind. Feeling the sea breeze on your skin adds to the whole experience.

    Speaking of ferry terminals, your advice about getting there early is right on point! Even though I haven’t experienced it personally, I’ve heard stories about some routes getting super crowded, with everyone vying for a spot on the ferry. So, arriving at least 30 minutes before departure is a clever move to avoid the chaotic last-minute rush.

    Better safe than sorry, right? Happy ferry travels!

    • I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder especially in places like New York where you really have to push to get on some of them! I’m always anxious about being late or not on time though so being early is my thing lol!

      Thanks for reading Femi :)

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