The question of which to choose, ferry or cruise, may very well be on your mind as you plan for a student trip to New York City. The deciding factor will, in the end, come down to price and touring capabilities for you and your group. Below is a fleshing out of the two choices of transportation so you may choose with all of the facts. Bon voyage!
Statue of Liberty Cruise
The Statue of Liberty Cruise company is the official purveyor of tickets and tours to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island. A ticket with the cruise line includes, at the most basic package, audio tours of the grounds of the Statue of Liberty as well as the museums on Ellis Island. Other packages include Pedestal Access, Crown Access, and the Hard Hat Tour & JR Exhibit grants a 90 minute guided tour of both islands plus access to the art exhibit, "Unframed - Ellis Island," in the Ellis Island Museum.
Cruises depart from either Battery Park in Manhattan or Liberty Island State Park across the harbor in New Jersey. Both access points are close to subway stations for easy access and also have on-site parking lots for customers.
Ellis Island supports educational school programs for grades K-12 including themed audio tours based on grade level and topic. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum has teacher guides of the facility for grades 4-8 and educational special events regularly take place at the museum.
Staten Island Ferry
The ferry is one of the last remaining fleets of the historic New York City ferry system started in the 18th century before bridges were built to connect the island, Burroughs. The Staten Island Ferry moves roughly 22 million people a year with their nine vessel fleet, with about 70,000 per day over 109 daily trips. This is the only non-vehicular mode of transportation moving between Staten Island and Manhattan and is owned and operated by the NY DOT, meaning it's completely free to ride. Going five miles over 25 minutes, this may be a short ride but it is a popular one not only for the easy and affordable access but for its views as well. The Staten Island Ferry does not dock at Liberty Island or Ellis Island but passes both and affords spectacular views from a harbor perspective.
So, here's the rub. If you're dead set on visiting and climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty then the cruise option is for you as there's no other way to do it. On the other hand, the view of the Statue of Liberty is best from a distance, as you may realize, so perhaps the cheaper (free!) option is right for you. A visit to Ellis Island is, of course, recommended especially for student groups or those on missions of genealogical history as there's no better place to learn about the history of 19th-century immigration.
In the end, the decision is up to you and you certainly can't go wrong from a touring perspective. If you have any more questions or would like to talk with someone about the different options, please give our talented travel agents a call at 877-397-5700.