Ferry Travel

Ferry Travel


Travellers cross large rivers, inlets, bays, and expanses of ocean in ferries the world over. Predominantly found along coastal areas or along large rivers, ferries are common on all major continents, with the exception perhaps of Antarctica.  Ferries come in all shapes and sizes, from massive ocean going ferries that are able to transport cars, to smaller ferries able to only carry passengers on foot. Some ferries, particularly those in parts of northern Europe, are specifically designed to carry train cars across small expanses of open water.

Some ferry trips can last just a few hours or less, if it is just a river or shorter trip to an island, while other ferry trips can last eight to 12 hours or more, if the trip is more extensive.

Making your ferry trip more comfortable

Making your ferry trip more comfortable

flickr image by mertie

Most ferries taking cars and walk-on passengers require that cars arrive one to three hours ahead of departure. During peak season it is advisable to call ahead and book a space if possible.

If travelling with a dog keep in mind that many ferries have pet regulations, requiring them to stay in the vehicle for the duration of travel, or allowing them on certain outdoor deck areas. Call ahead to determine pet policies on the ferry you will be travelling on.

If driving on to the ferry, remember to take everything you will need for the ferry trip with you from the car. Once the ferry sets sail you will not be allowed back to the car. For certain long-haul trips of one or more days there may only be certain times that you are allowed to access your vehicle.

If travelling on an overnight or long-haul trip, particularly with children, you may want to consider getting a private cabin. Sleeping will be more comfortable in a private cabin, and they provide a safe place for children to play while parents relax. Most cabins have also private bathrooms, allowing for a quick morning cleanup before arrival.

Make your ferry trip markedly more comfortable by dressing appropriately. Not only can the temperature inside fluctuate, but outer decks can also be quite cool on the open water. Wear practical shoes with rubber soles that will allow for traction even on wet surfaces. Trousers, shorts, or capris are easiest, as skirts can often blow around on the deck. A sweater or light jacket is also essential.

If you are prone to sea or motion-sickness, take precautions prior to the ferry setting sail. Many over the counter motion-sickness medications are readily available at pharmacies.

Packing your food is another way of ensuring a smooth ferry trip. While food and drinks are often available on board, they are frequently over-priced and of mediocre quality. Snack bars are also frequently closed over night. Having sandwiches, snack foods, fruit and drinks on hand, particularly when travelling with small children, will make for a much smoother ferry trip.

Ferries around the World

Ferries are found the world over, but there are some in particular that warrant special attention for the spectacular scenery, iconic sights, or wildlife that you can see from their decks.

Below is a mix of essential ferries if you are travelling in the region, and others that almost require travel itineraries made around them, they can be so spectacular.

Australia – Sydney to Manly

Australia - Sydney to Manly

flickr image by mertie

Travelling on this 30 minute ferry trip you are first given fantastic views of the Sydney Opera house and Harbour Bridge, before being treated to gardens and pretty Victorian homes, eventually giving way to secret coves and hidden beaches. Dolphins can often be seen along side the ferry and if you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a Southern Right whale.

Less than $10 one-way.

Hong Kong –Kowloon Peninsula to Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong –Kowloon Peninsula to Hong Kong Island

flickr image by rmlowe

This ferry trip across Victoria Harbour is popular with commuters between two busy Hong Kong areas. It is particularly spectacular at sunset and night when the glowing neon signs and glittering lights of skyscrapers fill both sides.

Less than $5 one-way.

Alaska – Ketchikan to Haines

Alaska – Ketchikan to Haines

flickr image by Alaskan Dude

Alaskan cruises have been steadily increasing in popularity. A less expensive way to take in some of the stunning Alaskan scenery is to take a trip from Ketchikan to Hines along the Alaska Marine Highway, passing by a number of remote Alaskan towns along the way. This 22 hour journey will take you past small villages, incredible hanging glaciers, rugged coastlines clad in rich green forests, and, if you are lucky, you may even see a black bear ambling along the shore, and eagle soaring high above, or whales and seals in the waters around you.

Less than $150 one-way.

India – Kerala; Alappuzha to Pulincunnoo

The rivers, channels and rice fields in this Indian region are so frequently flooded that a ferry system is essential. Taking a ferry from Alappuzha to Pulincunnoo, lets you see a unique window into Indian life. Travelling up past coconut palms and banana trees, with houses built at the waters edge and verdant green fields behind, you can see children playing and bathing, and women washing colourful pieces of clothing in the river.

Less than $5 one-way.

New Zealand – Wellington to Picton

New Zealand - Wellington to Picton

flickr image by daniel.chodusov

Leaving the Wellington harbour you can see Mount Victoria rising behind the city. The trip towards Picton, in the southern Island’s wine country, first gets increasingly more rugged as rocks and sheer cliffs line the water’s edge. Wild green forests contrast the grey of the cliffs, and whales and dolphins are frequently seen in the water.

Less than $50 one-way.

Greece – Rhodes to Symi

The sun-soaked Greek islands arefull of romance and adventure, and any of the ferry trips leading to them are fabulous. This one, between Rhodes and Symi, sees first the great Colossus, an ancient 100 foot tall statue of the god of the sun, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, who once guarded the harbour of Rhodes. The ferry then travels into a bay on the island of Symi, where houses in palecolours of the sun line the winding streets.

Less than $20 one-way.

Ontario, Canada – Tobermory to Manitoulin Island

Ontario, Canada – Tobermory to Manitoulin Island

flickr image by Bobolink

Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron is the largest freshwater island, and can be reached by bridge on the northern side, or by ferry from Tobermory on the southern side. Tobermory itself is at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, and boasts being the freshwater SCUBA diving capital of the world. The crystal blue waters might make you think you are sailing off some tropical island, and the coastline is dotted with strange rock formations called flowerpots.

Less than $100 one-way.

Outer Hebrides – Northwestern Scotland

Outer Hebrides – Northwestern Scotland

flickr image by conner395

The Outer Hebrides on Scotland’s northwestern edge are group of rugged islands, populated with fishing villages, sheep and craftspeople. The rugged, sparsely populated islands can be reached by both plane and ferry, but the latter is by far the most scenic way to go. The trip over from the mainland is a spectacle few nature-lovers will want to miss. Seals are frequently seen, but porpoises and whales do occasionally make appearances, as do a host of sea birds. Deserted white sand and rocky beaches give way to rugged hillsides dotted with sheep.

Less than $100 one-way.

Thailand – Ao Nang to KohLanta

The many Thai islands are well worth the trip from the mainland to see. Among them is KohLanta on the western side of Thailand, not far from Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. KohLanta is reached by ferry from Ao Nang, and the open topped ferry is the perfect spot from which to soak up the sun and watch the glittering waves of the emerald sea.

Less than $30 one-way.

Turkey – Golden Horn

Turkey – Golden Horn

flickr image by brewbooks

This unique ferry trip travels from the Europe to Asia in one smooth sailing. Starting at the European side of Istanbul, and sailing to the Asian side filled with minarets and mosques, travellers on this 20-minute ferry trip can take in the history, mythology and mystique of the region.

Less than $5 one-way.

Date posted: 18th March, 2015

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