I must admit that one of my fascinations in Norfolk was the Paddlewheel Ferry which crosses the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. From our 14th floor hotel room I watched as one of three 150-passenger paddle-wheel ferry boats repeadly made its rounds between North Landing and High Street in Portsmouth and Downtown Norfolk, at The Waterside.
Running from 7am to 10pm weekdays Monday - Thursday;7am to 12am - Friday; Saturdays and Sundays service does not begin until 10am and ending times vary depending on the stop. The Ferry operates every 30 minutes with 15-minute service "ferrying" workers, sightseers, and shoppers. Consult the website's schedule to be sure.
As I was visiting Norfolk in February, I'm sure most passengers I saw were people commuting to work in downtown Norfolk. However, visitors to Norfolk can also visit museums in Portsmouth via this convenient mode of transportation. (On the Portsmouth side, visit the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Museum of Military History, Naval Shipyard History Museum, Lightship Museum and more.)
The Paddlewheel's hours are shorter on weekends. Schedules are subject to change based on operating situations (weather, mechanical problems, etc.). The Ferry is wheelchair accessible and allows boarding passengers to walk on with their bicycles.
Fares are $1.50 each way; Seniors 60+ and disabled persons are .75 cents each way. Ferries are equipped with electronic fareboxes and do not give change, so please HAVE EXACT FARE!!! From Norfolk's Waterside Marketplace, the Paddlewheel Ferry embarkation point can be found behind the building near Joe's Crab Shack Restaurant.
I found out about this great transportation feature too late in my visit to Norfolk, but if you visit the city, then by all means you should take advantage of it. "F.R.E.D." stands for "Free Ride Every Day.".
It is a shuttle available to downtown residents, workers AND VISITORS for free! However, all trips must originate or end in the Downtown Improvement District which is basically all of old, downtown Norfolk. FRED'S schedule is extremely accommodating:
Monday - Thursday: 8:30am - 9:00pm
Friday: 8:30am - 11:30pm
Saturday: 11:30am - 11:30pm
A FRED vehicle is like an elongated golf cart, or vehicle like you would see in an airport concourse. It is a "Green" vehicle meaning that it is battery-operated with a solar roof!! FRED is is operated by Public Service Ambassadors, and drivers are sharply dressed in crisp teal and white uniforms! These Public Service Ambassadors also provide personal escorts as well----"...they will meet you and walk you wherever you'd like to go within the Downtown Improvement District." This is a great service, especially to visitors!
To schedule pick-up, call 757-478-7233.
Picture to follow!
If you want to take a trip across the river to Portsmouth, or just enjoy splendid views of the Elizabeth River, then take the ferry. It's only a dollar each way (exact change, please). It runs from 10:00 am to 11:30 pm, between Waterside in Norfolk and the Ferry Landing in Portsmouth.
Water travel is possible between Norfolk and Olde Towne Portsmouth and between Norfolk and downtown Hampton by ferry service.
The HRT Elizabeth River Ferry travels from the Waterside Marina to two locations in Olde Towne Portsmouth every half an hour from 7 am - 11:45 pm Mon. - Fri., and 10 am - 11:45 pm Sat. - Sun.
One-way fares are $1 for adults, 50 cents for children under 12 and for seniors and disabled persons
On our first trip on the Elizabeth River (Intercoastal Waterway) on our boat, the ferry seemed determined to ram us. The operator apparently paid no attention to anything on his route except what was right in front of him.
Their website says:
"HRT's Elizabeth River Ferry is a system of three 150-passenger paddle-wheel ferry boats, one of which is the world's first natural gas-powered pedestrian ferry. The Ferry travels between North Landing and High Street in Portsmouth and Downtown Norfolk at The Waterside. It's fast, economical and offers a panoram harbor view. The Ferry operates every 30 minutes, with 15-minute service at peak times on weekends. The Ferry is wheelchair accessible and allows boarding passengers to walk on with their bicycles."
I thought this little mini-tugboat was REALLY cute. I haven't used the service and don't know how much it costs.
The Norfolk website says:
"In addition to the Ferry service, Squyres Marine Services, Inc. provides water taxi and launch services from the Norfolk and Portsmouth waterfronts. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 5pm – 1 am. During the peak season and special events, there are expanded hours"
The water taxi website (which I am unable to access ATM) said:
"Try a new route between downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth! Our professional water taxi is available for commute across the water on a regular basis or by reservation for special event charters. Current hours are Friday and Saturday from 3:00 pm to 1:00 am. Additional hours are available with flexible scheduling"