Taking the Staten Island Ferry

Ever since we got here, the only tourist attraction that has been of any interest to Mr H is the Statue of Liberty. Growing up, it was that one landmark that he associated with the USA and so he needed to tick it off his bucket list.


There are plenty of boat tours that will take you right up close to Lady Liberty and also stop off at Ellis Island and Liberty Island. If you are interested in learning about the history associated with these stops, you should definitely look into them. However, for now at least, Mr H just wanted to see the statue up close and so we decided to take the free option of the Staten Island ferry.

Taking the ferry itself couldn’t be easier!

  • We walked down from Chinatown, through the financial district and to South Terminal but, if you’re too far away to walk or just cba, you can take the 1 train on the subway directly to the terminal.
  • Walk straight past the liars sales people and into the terminal (see below).
  • Go up the escalators and wait for the next ferry to arrive! There will be a crowd but don’t be put off – there is plenty of space on board.


Now, being married to a salesman, I’ve started to easily pick up on sales tricks and techniques and, although sometimes you have to respect the hustle (!), it can reallly piss me off when someone tries to pull one over on me! The area outside the Staten Island Ferry terminal is full of salespeople trying to put you off the free ferry and pay for one of their tours instead. Fair enough, they have a job to do, and maybe you are looking for a boat trip right up to Liberty Island itself, but some of the lies are so shameless it hurt!

Here are the 3 main lies we heard – don’t be put off by them!

1. The ferry is a not a nice boat – it’s just a standard passenger ferry with inside seating and window seats

LIES! Ok sure, it’s a passenger ferry, but it’s clean and actually very spacious! There’s even a little cafe/fast food area inside. And you can most definitely sit outside! There are at least 2 levels of balcony type seating if you don’t want to sit indoors. We sat at the top on the way to Staten Island and there was plenty of space – the benches face outwards and, even though we were on the side facing the statue, we had an unrestricted view even when sitting down. On the way back, we sat outside on the lower level. There is way more seating available on this level but there are also more people standing up to take photos off the side.

Upper Deck

2. The ferry takes 30 minutes there and back and you have to wait 30 minutes on Staten Island before you can get the next one back here. *Looks at watch quickly* You’ve just missed one so you’ll have to wait another 30 minutes for the next one. That’s 2 hours and our tour only takes 1 hour.

Yes the ferry takes 30 minutes each way but actually, you can quickly loop around at the ferry terminal and jump on the same boat back without waiting for the next one! We decided to go for a walk before taking the return journey but it was definitely doable. Also, as we thought we’d ‘just missed one’, we decided to go for a walk along battery park before heading to the terminal. After about 10minutes, we noticed that a ferry had just left and we’d fallen for one of their tricks. Dammit! – I knew she’d looked at her watch too quickly to see the time! Realistically, the wait doesn’t even feel like that long so if they tell you you’ve just missed a boat just ignore them and go inside anyway!


3. The view from the ferry is so far away – it travels half a kilometre further from the statue than battery park is. If you don’t want to pay you should just look at it from the coast.

What a piss-take! Because of the ‘wait’, we’d decided to go for a walk along the coast of battery park to see the statue before we took the ferry. What did we see? We saw the ferry on it’s way to Staten Island. And where did it go? MUCH, MUCH closer to the statue than where we were standing. How do you make up these lies?! ALSO, we saw people standing outside on the balcony!



To give her some credit, she did tell us to sit on the right hand side if we wanted to see the statue. This turned out to be blatantly obvious but also – not a lie! Thanks sales lady.



1 thought on “Taking the Staten Island Ferry”

  1. I know what you mean about the people outside the station trying to convince you that the free ferry is a terrible option. They’re vultures and looking to prey on any foreigners not familiar with how great the staten ferry is in and of itself.

    Unfortunately I fell victim to these sleazy salespeople three times during our journey. They really got to me and I regret it. My now ex-wife slated me and called me gullible. She’d recite that old saying “Fool me once, shame on you – Fool me twice, shame on me” but she’d then add her own spin to make me feel like failure – “Fool me three times and shame on the person who married you”.

    It’s ok now. We’re divorced and I’ve reinvented myself as John the Explorer. Viva John the Explorer!


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