The ferry is a breezy way to get to NYC’s summer destinations — and maybe even see dolphins

July 8, 2024

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr

It’s in his blood, NYC Ferry Captain Vincent Ardolino says. His father was a captain, his grandfather was a captain, and his uncles, too. Growing up in the Rockaways, his typical ferry route from Wall Street to Brooklyn to Rockaway Beach is a natural one for him – and his favorite.

Rockway Line NYC Ferry in April 2018. Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office on Flickr 

NYC Ferry’s Rockaway route takes beachgoers to the shore. This summer, you can even reserve a ticket ($10) for a trip up to two weeks in advance. Ardolino says it’s usually an upbeat crowd on the ride, ready to get out of the city and enjoy the summer weather.

“They’re taking in the sights, riding up on the top deck; it’s generally a good time,” he said.

Plus, there have been some wildlife sightings lately — even the occasional whale that “moseys” into the area. More common, though, are dolphins.

“I’ll slow the boat down so people can take pictures,” he said.

The only legal surfing beaches in the city are in the Rockaways, and on summer days, they’re full of locals and others looking to get some sun and enjoy the area’s fun bars and eateries. (Recently, a resort-style hotel with a pool, restaurant, and spa opened if you want to make a real weekend of it.)

Photo by Shinya Suzuki on Flickr

In addition to hitting the beach, the ferry is an affordable way to get around the city in the summer without having to brave sweaty subway platforms (one-way ferry tickets are $4). The summer schedule operates through September 9 and includes routes to summer destinations like Rockaway Beach and Governors Island as well as Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Red Hook waterfront.

Other options for escaping the concrete jungle are the Staten Island Ferry, which is free and offers a nice view of the Statue of Liberty, and the New York Water Taxi, which offers custom routes.

If you happen to stumble upon the NYC Ferry’s Instagram page, you’ll notice see a bit of fun — like an instructional video on how to ride the ferry featuring Teletubbies — as well as some collaborations. For Pride Month, NYC Ferry partnered with Gay Pride Apparel for some rainbow-colored merchandise; recently they teamed up with FoodBank4NYC and had school children name the ferries; and Porchstomp for on-board live music.

“We’re trying to spread the word,” said Ardolino. He has been with NYC Ferry for seven years and says passengers are a mix of locals and tourists, with most people utilizing the ferry as a pleasant way to commute.

“It’s a comfortable way to get to and from where you’re going; there are views, scenery, wildlife. It’s fast; it’s reliable,” he said.

But he wants people to know that the ferry is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s a way to really experience the heart of New York City.

Boating and living along the water are part of the city’s culture, and “it’s something people don’t think of when they think of NYC, but for people here, it’s (a way of life),” he said.

“You can immerse yourself in NYC culture, and there are so many sights you can see from the water from a different perspective.”


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