The world’s largest ferries are typically those operated in Europe, with different vessels holding the record depending on whether length, gross tonnage or car vehicle capacity is the metric.
On 11 October 1811, inventor John Stevens’ ship the Juliana, began operation as the first steam-powered ferry (service was between New York City, and Hoboken, New Jersey)
The Elwell Ferry, a cable ferry in North Carolina, travels a distance of 110 yards (100 m), shore to shore, with a travel time of five minutes.
A contender as oldest ferry in continuous operation is the Mersey Ferry from Liverpool to Birkenhead, England. In 1150, the Benedictine Priory at Birkenhead was established. The monks used to charge a small fare to row passengers across the estuary. In 1330, Edward III granted a charter to the Priory and its successors for ever: “the right of ferry there… for men, horses and goods, with leave to charge reasonable tolls”. However, there may have been a short break following the Dissolution of the monasteries.
Another claimant as the oldest ferry service in continuous operation is the Rocky Hill – Glastonbury Ferry, running between the towns of Rocky Hill and Glastonbury, Connecticut. Established in 1655, the ferry has run continuously since, only ceasing operation every winter when the river freezes over. A long running salt water ferry service is the Halifax/Dartmouth ferry, running between the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which has run year-round since 1752, and is currently run by the region’s transit authority, Metro Transit. However the Mersey Ferry predates it as the oldest salt water ferry.
Two of the world’s largest ferry systems are located in the Strait of Georgia, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, and Puget Sound, in the U.S. state of Washington. BC Ferries in British Columbia operates 36 vessels, visiting 47 ports of call, while Washington State Ferries owns 28 vessels, travelling to 20 ports of call around Puget Sound. On the west coast of Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne operate a network calling at 50 ports using a fleet of 31 vessels, 10 of which are 80m or longer. This includes a high proportion of lifeline services to island communities and as such most of the routes are heavily subsidised by the government.
Sydney Ferries in Sydney, Australia operates 31 passenger ferries in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour), carrying 18 million passengers annually. It operates catamarans and other types of ferries on these routes, with the most famous likely being the Circular Quay-Manly route. Between 1938 and 1974 this route operated the South Steyne, billed at the time as the largest and fastest ferry of its type. Sydney Ferries became an independent corporation owned by the government in 2004.
Some of world’s busiest ferry routes include the Star Ferry in Hong Kong and the Staten Island Ferry in New York City.
Metrolink Queensland operates 21 passenger ferries on behalf of Brisbane City Council, 12 being single-hulled ferries and 9 CityCats (catamarans), along the Brisbane River from the University of Queensland through the city to Brett’s Wharf.
The gas-powered Luciano Federico L operated by Montevideo-based Buquebus, holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest car ferry boat in the world, in service between Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina: its maximum speed, achieved in sea trials, was 60.2 knots (111.5 km/h; 69.3 mph). It can carry 450 passengers and 52 cars along the 110-nautical-mile (200 km; 130 mi) route. Read more