Car Ferries And Why We Love Them

It’s been almost a year since I sat down to write our 2017 travel goals. You can read through the complete list here. One of the goals on my list was to “ride in a car, boat, plane, and train at some point during the year while traveling.” Although at the time I had absolutely no idea how I’d specifically make that goal happen, I knew I would.

Fast forward several months and I sat down to plan a road trip route through the Northeast. Most of the geography and destinations allowed for a loop-like path; However, there was one portion of the trip where we’d need to backtrack quite a bit. I studied the map for a while trying to consider any other possibility. And then it hit me- we could take advantage of a car ferry!

Of course, my initial excitement was all about fulfilling the boat portion of my travel goal. I didn’t even consider if it were cost effective or time efficient. In fact, I didn’t even bother to check to see if a car ferry existed for that area!

After my husband reminded me about all those tiny details (he’s always quick to give me a little reality check!) I was THRILLED to discover it might actually work out. Not only did a ferry exist, but the price was reasonable and the timing fit into our itinerary.

Our 2 route options to get around Delaware Bay.

Admittedly, after I pre-booked our ferry tickets to finalize this as the route- I realized I had a lot to learn. I did some research, but honestly- most of these suggestions for traveling on car ferries just come from our experience. We did a few really smart things (purely by luck) and there are a couple things we’d change next time.

No matter where your travels take you- here are my suggestions for using car ferries:

  • DO IT: Despite this just being a logistical way to get from point A to point B, this actually ended up being one of the most fun adventures of our whole trip. We will go out of our way to take car ferries in the future- even if we end up slightly off course.
  • Book In Advance: When we travel my husband really enjoys being spontaneous. He hates being on a tight schedule and really doesn’t like being confined to reservations. However, car ferries often sell out. Treat this like a flight and plan around the time.
  • Show Up Early: Just like a plane, the boat will leave without you. Most ferries funnel the cars into loading lanes. It doesn’t really matter where your car ends up unless you’re going to be in a huge hurry when the ferry docks.
  • Outerwear: After putting your car in park, you’ll want to head up to one of the top decks. Once the ferry starts moving, the temperature is noticeably cooler. Since we were traveling during the summer, we made the mistake of not considering this temperature swing. We ended up having to make our way back to the car and managed to dig out raincoats to keep us somewhat warm.
  • Food/Drinks: Since you are bringing your car onboard, you can pretty much bring whatever you want. I highly recommend making a pit stop at a grocery store near the ferry terminal. We had so much fun having our own version of a sunset dinner cruise.
Our “gourmet” grocery store spread for our sunset dinner cruise!
  • Price: Speaking of our make-shift dinner cruise, we felt that the price of the car ferry was extremely reasonable- especially considering we would likely pay a similar rate just for the scenic boat ride! Consider the cost an entertainment expense, not specifically a means of travel expense (because, admittedly, it did cost more than driving…but not by much!) For reference, we paid about $70 during a peak-season travel time.

Click here to view a complete list of ferries in the United States. I can’t wait to incorporate one into our next big road trip!

Making memories + crossing off travel goals + good logistics = WIN

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

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1 Comment

  1. The One About East Coast Boating - Mom With a Map on September 15, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    […] can read more about our experience here: New Jersey Car Ferry. To say it was very surreal to pass that same ferry- years later on our own boat- would be an […]

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