Photo via JWGA Inc
Sometimes the waterway is both greener and faster than the highway. Though ferries are bigger than cars and usually use more fuel, they can carry hundreds of people and cars at one time. Plus, they are also often the shortest route from point A to point B -- meaning a fraction of the mileage that would be spent in a car. In cities that offer commuter ferries to keep rush hour under control, ferries are also a solution to traffic jams -- meaning less stress as well as fuel consumption.
From New York and California to Italy and Australia, add these green ferry trips to your next itinerary.
1. Port Jefferson, New York to Bridgeport, Connecticut
Take the ferry from Port Jefferson, NY, to Bridgeport, CT, and it's an 18 mile straight shoot across the Long Island Sound -- you can go from the vineyards of Eastern Long Island to the waterfront cities of Connecticut in about an hour. Try to drive, on the other hand, and you'll go west toward New York City, battle traffic across the Throgg's Neck Bridge and through Connecticut -- and end up putting nearly 100 miles on your car. And New York residents planning on heading to New England for skiing or trips to the Cape can bring their car on board to save time and fuel.
2. Algeciras, Spain, to Tangier, Morocco
You can't drive from Spain to Morocco, but the ferry from Spanish Algeciras to Moroccan Tangier will take you across the Strait of Gibralter, linking Europe and Africa in a 35-minute trip that uses less fuel than flying.
In Tangier, you can visit the Kasbah, jazz clubs, cafes, casinos, and famous landmarks that blend the African and European styles that share the city. If you're planning to travel around Morocco or Spain once you arrive, you can take your car across on the ferry, too (though we recommend bike or train).
3. Bari, Italy, to Patras, Greece
Getting from Bari, Italy -- on the southeastern side of the country -- to Patras, Greece, across the Ionian Sea, is a journey of about 645 km by ferry -- and roughly 2,600 km if you attempt to drive it. Drive onto the car ferry instead and relax during the day-long trip -- plus you can enjoy the coastal scenery at the beginning and the end of your trip.
4. Naantali, Finland, to Kapeliskar, Sweden
5. Dover, England to Calais, France
Travelers have plenty of options for going back and forth between England and France, including the Chunnel -- but if you'd rather stay above the water, then the Dover to Calais ferry route travels the same path (and you can bring along your car for motoring when you reach the opposite shore).
Since there's no bridge connecting the countries, ferries are a greener choice than flying: According to The Guardian, the ferry puts out just 10kg of CO2 per passenger, and since the ferry works in a lower atmosphere, the output doesn't have as much negative impact on the environment.
6. Australia's Kurrowera Catamaran
In the sealife-heavy waters of Queensland's Moreton Bay, the ships can be a danger to the plants and creatures that live in shallower waters or that swim near the surface -- which is why the Bay Islands Transit System added the Kurrowera catamaran to its lineup of ships. Made from aluminum (so it's lighter, and uses less fuel) and designed to "push a turtle or dugong to one side instead of harming it" by running them over, the ships let Australians, tourists, and Mother Nature coexist.
7. San Francisco's Eco Ferries
The San Francisco fleet of ferries takes locals around the famous San Francisco Bay, with stops at Alameda, Oakland, Sausalito, and other landings. But these aren't the same ferries you'll find on other business routes: The city now has several different eco-friendly versions, including the Hornblower Hybrid boat, which uses wind and solar power for its trips to Alcatraz Island, and the Pisces, which holds 149 passengers (and 34 bicycles) and uses a biodiesel blend for reduced fuel emissions, according to HeraldNet.com.
By keeping cars off the road and cutting the footprint of boating even further, San Francisco helps keep its waters clean and its air unpolluted.
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