Ferries can be more than just a way to get from one location to another - they can often provide the best ways to tour some of the most beautiful and remote locations on Earth. Here are some of our favourites…
1. Patagonian Fjords Ferry
The epic ferry ride that is the Patagonian Fjords ferry is a 1,300-kilometre-long ferry ride that travels between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales. This ferry ride takes four days to complete, but passengers are treated to some of the most isolated estuaries in the world. Along the way, passengers get exciting views of ice fields and fjords that have been carved into the Andes. The boat even provides a fairly close-up view of the face of the Bruggen Glacier which, at almost 800-square-kilometres, is the largest glacier in South America.
2. Star Ferry
Hong Kong on its own is a sight to behold. However, when viewing the city from the water it really makes one wonder how such a magnificent city fits into such a small area. The Star Ferry between Kowloon's Tsimshatsui to central Hong Kong Island is proof that ferry rides don't just have to provide views of nature's beauty – they can be just as thrilling when they provide great views of architectural achievements.
3. The Golden Horn Ferry
Need a ferry ride that takes you from one continent to another? The Golden Horn Ferry travels from the European side of Istanbul at Eminonu Quay to Topkapi Palace on the Asian side of Istanbul – in just 20 minutes. While travelling across the water, you can enjoy a cup of hot tea as you watch local Istanbul residents go about their busy lives on shore.
4. Staten Island Ferry
New York City
There is probably no ferry ride more iconic than the Staten Island Ferry in New York City. Having been featured in numerous films, songs and television shows, the Staten Island Ferry is a favourite among tourists. The 25-minute route, which has been fixed since the 1700s, takes ferry-riders across the harbour past the giant skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty to where it docks in Lower Manhattan.
Hot pretzels and ice cold beer are served for those who find riding the ferry thirsty work. For an even more spectacular trip, try taking the ferry at sunset. There is nothing more romantic or special than watching the sun dance around the skyscrapers as it begins to set.
5. Ferry Between Port Hardy And Prince Rupert
British Columbia, Canada
There are few better ways to experience the scenery of the Canadian province of British Columbia than by ferry. This ferry tour spans 15 hours over a 400-kilometre-long journey, weaving through open ocean and canals to give some of the best views of British Columbia. Along the way, passengers are likely to spot some of BC's thriving wildlife such as orcas, eagles, black bears and porpoises.
6. Dalmatian Coast Ferry
Along the Adriatic coast, there are around 400-kilometres of ferry routes that tour the thousand of islands in the area, so the fact that this particular ferry ride stands out above all the others speaks volumes by itself.
This ferry ride along Croatia's Dalmatian Coast travels between the cities of Split and Vis and spans a little over two hours, with some exceptional scenery along the way. It is a thrill to watch the mixtures of Greek, Roman, Venetian, and Slavic architecture roll by as you bob along the waves.
7. Cook Strait Ferry
The Cook Strait Ferry may just be the reason that the people of New Zealand are so happy. The locals of Wellington and the surrounding areas on the North Island use it to travel to the South Island.
Passengers travel between the charmingly urban Wellington to the gorgeous wine country on the South Island. Over this three-hour journey, travellers are offered rewarding views of Mount Victoria before watching the smooth hills melting into rugged coastline. In an open water stretch, travellers are likely to see shy whales or friendly dolphins breaching the water before watching the boat navigate itself through Marlborough Sound.
8. Kerala Ferry
The rivers of the Western Ghats flood the Kerala region so frequently that a series of canals have been built. Now travelling by ferry is practically a way of life for the people there. They use the sprawling system of canals to travel back and forth to work. Some live on the river in boats, and there are more than a few restaurants that float along the passageways.
While viewing the scenery from the ferries, travellers also get a view at traditional Indian life – mothers washing colourful clothing in the river before laying it out to dry, children bathing in the river and swimming off the docks and farmers tending to their flooded rice paddies.
9. The Algeciras To Ceuta Ferry
Spain And Morocco
This is another ferry ride that spans two continents. This ride takes passengers from the Spanish port of Algreciras across the Strait of Gibraltar to the Moroccan city of Ceuta on the African continent. Passengers on this hour-long crossing are exposed not only to a beautiful blue panorama of ocean vistas, but also to the famous Pillars of Hercules, etched immobile into the mountainside.
The best part of this ferry ride is perhaps the mixture of different cultures coming together to cross the strait, from the modern Spaniards, going on holiday in luxurious Morocco to the native Berbers in their colourful traditional dress. This is truly a treat for those not so much interested in a scenic ferry ride, but in an adventure in people-watching.
10. Ferry Between St Thomas And St John
The U.S. Virgin Islands
The ferry ride between St Thomas and St John islands is the pinnacle of relaxation. Quietly bobbing the gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea , this 6.4-kilometre ride takes around 20 minutes to complete. Along the way, the water is so crystal clear that passengers will often spot the vibrant sea life below the surface.
11. The Rhodes Ferry
creativecommons.org/Nathan Hughes Hamilton
There is no better way to see the Greek Islands than from the Aegean Sea. Rhodes once hosted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Colossus, who stood tall over the harbour to protect it. Sadly, that giant statue of the sun god is long gone and crenulated stone walls now replace it as the city’s protector. These walls serve as a reminder of just how much time this city has endured.
After leaving the ironically Greek designed city, the ferry travels the coast of southwestern Turkey and enters the bay of Symi. When arriving in Symi, it seems as if the lightly-coloured pink and peach buildings practically spring from the hillside, celebrating the city’s old world charm.
12. Melbourne To Tasmania Ferry
The skyline of Melbourne fades as this ferry travels 56-kilometres through Port Phillip Bay before making the 346-kilometre trek across the Bass Strait. Suddenly, passengers are surrounded by the sandy bluffs and green farmland of Tasmania.
The ferry itself is set up accordingly for the long journey, with comfortable beds and recliners so that travellers can watch the scenery go by.
13. Fjords Ferry
The two-hour summer ferry ride travels through three fjords – Norddalsfjord, Sunnylvsfjord and Geirangerfjord – all three of which make up a UNESCO World Heritage site. Passengers are treated to views of wispy waterfalls that make 1,219-metre drops, small villages that and battered old farmhouses that sit high and solitary on the fjord ledges.
14. The Buenos Aires To Montevideo Ferry
Argentina And Uruguay
A lot of people imagine South American ferries to be cramped and not in the least bit luxurious. While some undoubtedly can be, the ferry between Buenos Aires and Montevideo puts all the other ferries to shame. This modern and comfortable ferry makes the 200-kilometre trip between these two modern cities seem like a small vacation.
When not kicking back in luxury and taking in the sun, passengers can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of lush South American jungle and innumerable white sand beaches.
15. St John To Digby Ferry
New Brunswick And Nova Scotia
In the hands of an untrained captain, making the trip from St John to Digby might be a dangerous affair. The Bay of Fundy separating these two lovely ports is home to some of the highest tides and strongest currents in the world. However, this only adds to the excitement for those travelling across the swelling seas.
16. Nantucket Ferry
On this hour-long, 45-kilometre boat ride passengers are treated to a glimpse of the Nantucket lifestyle, with its traditional weathered Cape Cod-style cottages, quaint little villages and beautiful beaches. When crossing between Hyannis to Nantucket Island, passengers can take their pick on whether they want a slow boat ride or a fast ride, depending on just how much scenery they want to take in.
17. Key West Ferry
Unlike all the other ferry rides that go to a particular destination, the Key West ferry ride around Dry Tortugas National Park has no ending destination – it is more like a tour around the area. After crossing 112 kilometres of pristine ocean, the ferry circles around the seven white sand islands that make up the Dry Tortugas Islands National Park. Passengers have the option to borrow snorkeling gear and get an up close and personal view of the native green sea turtles.