on August 19, 2011
When I visited New York I was travelling with two other girls and we were all students, so money was a little tight. We wanted to save as much as possible for doing things like cocktails and shows in the evenings. That being said we didn't want to pass up on an opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty and I found a tip in a forum that said to see it for free take the Staten Island Ferry. Intrigued I looked into this further and you do indeed steam straight past the Statue of Liberty and across New York Harbor from Lower Manhattan all the way to Staten Island. It is a 5 mile trip and it takes 25 minutes each way. What's more is that because it is run by the city of New York for commuters on foot and is purely to ferry them to and from Staten Island, it is subsidised and free.Well I thought I can't really pass up a free sightseeing tour, so I dragged my travel companions on the subway down to Lower Manhattan and the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. It's really easy to find, you take the subway to Whitehall Street-South Ferry and you just come up to street level and the ferry terminal is right there (see pictures attached). We visited in the middle of the work day and there were just an average number of people getting on, it was by no means packed. As you will see from the pictures that I attached the weather was pretty abyssmal that day, however we weren't there long enough to go any other time. I would advise trying to go on the ferry on a sunny, clear day because you will get much better pictures of the skyscrapers, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. We weren't complaining though, we were out on deck, braving the elements like the true Brits we are. The journey itself was pretty uneventful, but we did get a really good look at Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which was heaving with people and I was pleased that I hadn't gone for a closer look. Having said that Ellis Island does have a really good exhibition about the immigrants that came to New York on the big trans-Atlantic steam ships. By all accounts it is worth a visit, but my companions weren't interested so I just figured I would go another time. The Statue of Liberty is what it is, when we were visiting you still couldn't go up to the top of it, which was a precaution taken following 9/11. I didn't see the need to get any closer than we did just to look at the outside, so I think the Staten Island Ferry did us proud.The ferry itself is clean and tidy inside, just like any commuter transportation, there were toilets and I think a newsagent type shop (but I could be mistaken on that last one). The ferry terminals at either end were modern and easy to understand and everything seemed to work like clockwork. When we arrived at Staten Island, we didn't have time to explore, but you could easily do that and get a later ferry back to Manhattan. We just walked round to the end of the queue of people waiting to go back to Manhattan and jumped right back on the ferry and off we went back.The best thing about this ferry is that it is free and then on top of that it is very frequent, so you don't have to worry about waiting long if you get to the terminal and miss one. I would say a nice way to see New York harbour and get some good photos....even better if you get a sunny day!
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