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Boston - New York overnight ferry

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I've always wondered if an overnight ferry would work between Boston and New York.  There are lots of tourists that want to see both cities.  Both cities have among the highest hotel rates in the country.  An overnight ferry would provide transportation and save on a night in a hotel.  Has anyone ever proposed such an idea in recent history? 

One problem is that the distance may be just a little bit too long to make this work.  An older cruise ship might make sense, but there is only a 130 foot clearance to get through the Cape Cod Canal.  

Historically, the trip involved a rail connection to Buzzard's Bay.  https://www.cruiselinehistory.com/the-night-boats-new-york-to-boston-the-fall-river-line/

It's frustrating to me that North America has so few ferries compared to other parts of the world.  I can understand from a geographical perspective, however.

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I honestly don't really see the appeal here. A bus, car, or train can get you there in well under half the time, and you wouldn't really "save on a night in a hotel", as that cost would fall on the ferry itself. In fact, depending on just how long a ferry would take, you may be able to arrive at your destination at around the same time instead by just catching an early morning train or bus the following day, instead of a ferry that night. I mean, let's say this ferry can maintain an average of 20 mph (which would be pretty high), and the distance from NYC to Boston is 250 miles. That's going to take at least 12 or 13 hours, so if this ferry were to depart at maybe 9:00 PM, you'd get in at 9:00 or 10:00 AM the next day. Meanwhile if you catch a 7:30 AM Acela the next morning, you can be in Boston by 11:00 AM, and have spent the night in your own bed, which is probably going to be a lot cheaper and more comfortable. So my take on this is that it's not a long enough trip to really count as a cruise, and not quick (or cheap) enough to effectively compete with a train, bus, or car.

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And it would be of questionable value for sightseeing, with much of the trip taking place at night.

Another niche idea would be a sleeper train that runs BOS-NYP but that could be occupied until, say 7:00 a.m. at the destination. But the idea of having a train occupy a platform during the morning rush at BOS or NYP is probably DOA, not to mention finding the equipment, etc.

 

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10 minutes ago, fairviewroad said:

And it would be of questionable value for sightseeing, with much of the trip taking place at night.

Another niche idea would be a sleeper train that runs BOS-NYP but that could be occupied until, say 7:00 a.m. at the destination. But the idea of having a train occupy a platform during the morning rush at BOS or NYP is probably DOA, not to mention finding the equipment, etc.

You’d get part of that if they ever add a sleeper or Bag-Dorm to the overnight Regionals. But even if they did have the equipment and space to run a BOS-NYP sleeper train, I just don’t think it would make sense to allow passengers to sleep in like that when the ride is only four or so hours. If it were an actual long distance train,  letting people stay onboard for a few extra hours wouldn’t make much of a difference, but not for a short distance ride.

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 For the vast majority of the traveling public, a ferry would have a nicer accommodations than an Amtrak sleeper.   The sightseeing from a ferry entering either city in the morning hours would be more appealing than what you’d get from a train.

Perhaps I should not of said that a ferry would save the cost of a hotel room. A more accurate statement would be that a ferry word quite likely be cheaper than a hotel and transportation costs combined. It is a distinct possibility with the cost of an Acela ticket. Yes, you could take the bus for much cheaper but I would much rather take an overnight ferry than be stuck on an inter-city bus for several hours.   You’d also be dealing with rush-hour traffic. 

In any event, it does not sound like a viable idea or somebody would have tried it by now. 

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1 hour ago, fairviewroad said:

And it would be of questionable value for sightseeing, with much of the trip taking place at night.

Another niche idea would be a sleeper train that runs BOS-NYP but that could be occupied until, say 7:00 a.m. at the destination. But the idea of having a train occupy a platform during the morning rush at BOS or NYP is probably DOA, not to mention finding the equipment, etc.

 

That's a "been there done that". "Once upon a time (within the Amtrak era)", there was a pickup/setout NYP-WAS Sleeper. Handled on 66/7, Night Owl.  It was parked at either station from 10P to 8AM after of course it moved between the two.

Pre-Amtrak, this was quite customary for routes such as GCT-BOS, along with pickup/setout Sleepers on numerous routes. But Amtrak reasons "why have an Attendant there under pay when no revenue is generated? During "railroad days", to handle a "Pullman" at say Jackson, MS, Memphis. TN, Greenville, SC, and God knows wherever else, was just part of a Third Trick's yard assignment to "go down to the station and yank the Pullman off #5". Amtrak doesn't have that "utility".

So even when the V2snoozes are ever delivered, don't expect to see any pickup/setout lines.

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12 minutes ago, VTTrain said:

 For the vast majority of the traveling public, a ferry would have a nicer accommodations than an Amtrak sleeper.   The sightseeing from a ferry entering either city in the morning hours would be more appealing than what you’d get from a train.

Perhaps I should not of said that a ferry would save the cost of a hotel room. A more accurate statement would be that a ferry word quite likely be cheaper than a hotel and transportation costs combined. It is a distinct possibility with the cost of an Acela ticket. Yes, you could take the bus for much cheaper but I would much rather take an overnight ferry than be stuck on an inter-city bus for several hours.   You’d also be dealing with rush-hour traffic. 

In any event, it does not sound like a viable idea or somebody would have tried it by now. 

It isn't a bad idea at all. The problem is there probably wouldn't be much "profitable" idea as you'd need a lot of riders to make the boat investment worthwhile. Additionally, there are  low fare bus operators along the route.

 Realistically, you have bike sharing and car sharing services to meet the ferry, so wouldn't necessarily need a car.  Additionally, if you could occupy the boat until, let say 8am, it would save hotel money. That was the appeal of the aforementioned Executive Sleeper. Maybe they could start serving breakfast around 5am for the early risers.

If we could just lure people out of their cars...........

I can't say anyone has suggested but I really like this idea. 

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How about if the ferry was also a casino or something and thiu in addition to its transportation function, it could become an attraction in its own right.

This might require a shift from overnight to daytime operation, or at least a combination of evening and nightime, allowing passengers to lie in at destination

Possibly it could also capture some RoRo truck traffic, allowing drivers to by-pass congested roads while getting some sleep..

Even if none of these functions would generate enough income to keep the ship afloat, the combination/overlap  possibly would. 

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2 hours ago, cirdan said:

How about if the ferry was also a casino or something and thiu in addition to its transportation function, it could become an attraction in its own right.

Gambling is illegal in New York, though, which would likely prohibit any kind of onboard casino...

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56 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

Gambling is illegal in New York, though, which would likely prohibit any kind of onboard casino...

Not to mention the fact that you have existing gambling opportunities just to the north and south of NYC, easily accessible by land transport. Makes the idea of being captive on a boat for 13 hours a bit less appealing. Of course, cruises are a "thing" and this could work as a seasonal operation, but gambling or not, it would have to be about 99% cruise and 1% transportation, IMO.

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You can gamble aboard ship in international waters, the added time and cost to do that certainly would not help the practicality (or economics) in this case. Cruise ships head for "the limit" right away to get the casinos open, but Boston to NY out at sea instead of using LI Sound would likely never work. I've used the cross sound ferries, and they aren't bad, but that's about saving lots of mileage and time. (Orient Point -New London is about an hour and 20 mins / Pt Jeff- Bridgeport an hour 15 mins) They are useful for Long Island folks, further East the better, not really for NYC

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2 hours ago, cpotisch said:

Gambling is illegal in New York, though, which would likely prohibit any kind of onboard casino...

Gambling is most definitely legal in New York.  It’s just heavily regulated.  New York has several commercial casinos and racinos.  Here is a list of them.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_casinos_in_New_York

Would gambling be allowed on a ship that does not enter international waters?  That’s highly doubtful, especially if New York had to share the revenues with other states.  

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At the present time no. NY has worked against offshore casinos (which were really just gambling boats)  (operators wanted 3 mile limit, NY wanted the 12 mile enforcement which makes the trips unprofitable) in the past, but there have been situations (not in NY) where states have allowed riverboat casinos in specific locations. Some of NY's casinos have quite a bit to offer beyond gambling, Turning Stone as an example.

Edited by PVD

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This is the reason that a large ferry or cruise ship is not practical for an overnight run from New York to Boston....https://www.searoutes.com/portdistance?fromName=New York&fromLocode=USNYC&toName=Boston&toLocode=USBOS  ...a bit too far.

Most cruises that depart from New York that call at Boston, will spend a day at Newport, RI in between, or a day at sea.   While smaller ships can use the 'shortcut' thru the Cape Cod Canal, if they did that, they would not be able to operate their casino's.   Only a smaller ship would use the East River, Hell Gate, and Long Island Sound, also no gambling.

Another barrier, is the ship would have to be US built, registered, flagged, and crewed to legally carry passenger's boarding in one US Port, and disembarking in another, under the Passenger Vessel Services Act.   They don't build large ones in the US anymore.

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Depends. Fairly large freighter and tankers are still routinely built, my brother in laws company just took 2 800 foot containerships from Aker/Philadelphia. NYC has 2 325 foot ferries under construction right now, but they are coastal not offshore. Other than riverboat stuff, not much overnight passenger action in the US flagged market.

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Here’s an interesting video that somewhat covers this:

 

Edited by cpotisch

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As was said earlier gambling is legal in New York.  There's a Resorts World casino in Queens at Aqueduct.  There was a time close to twenty years ago now where a gambling boat operated from the South Shore of Long Island in Nassau County.  The boat's been defunct for years but it did exist.  I forget whether they went only three miles out or farther as time fades the memory.

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There is summer weekend ferry service from NJ/NYC to Marthas Vineyard, MA. There is also ferry service Marthas Vineyard to many points in MA and RI. They use the Seastreak ferries that are high speed catamarans which travel 30 knots, which is 34.5 MPH. The Cape Cod Canal and approaches have a maximum speed limit of 10 MPH which kills the Boston to NY travel time.

http://Routes & Schedules for NYC, NJ, Martha's Vineyard | Seastreak Ferries https://seastreak.com/ferry-routes-and-schedules/

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