A ferry boat is a form of transportation (typically a boat, but others are ships) which is used to mainly carry passengers, sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water.
Ships that can travel for much longer and larger distances over bodies of water, especially when carrying vehicles, may also be referred to as a ferry service.
There are several, different kinds of ferries. Their design depends on the length of their route, capacity, capability, speed requirements and the water conditions that they must deal with.
1. Hydrofoil – Hydrofoil ferries are passenger-only and have higher cruising speeds.
2. Double-ended – Double ended ferry boats have interchangeable bows and sterns, which allow them to travel back and forth between terminals without having to turn around.
3. Hovercraft – Hovercrafts were developed in the early 60s and 70s to transport vehicles. The largest hovercraft that ever existed was the massive SR.N4 which had the capability of carrying 418 passengers and 60 cars.
4. Catamaran – Catamarans are usually associated with high-speed ferry service. The largest catamarans in the world, the Stena HSS class, are operated by Stena Line. They can accommodate an impressive total of 1,500 passengers and 375 vehicles between their routes of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
5. Ro-Ro – RORO stands for roll-on/roll-off, named for the luxury by which vehicles can just roll on, and then roll off. These kinds of ferries are large and conventional.
6. Cruiseferry – This is a ship that combines the features of a cruise ship with a RoRo.
7. Fast RoPax ferry – These kinds are ferries with a relatively large passenger capacity and garage intake, with conventional diesel propulsion and propellers that can sail over 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph).
8. Turntable ferry – This type allows vehicles to embark from the “side”, because the vehicle platform can be turned. When loading, the platform is turned sideways to allow sideway loading of cars. Before leaving its’ dock, the platform must then be turned back in line with the vessel.
9. Pontoon ferry – Pontoon ferries carry cars in less-developed countries with large rivers, but not enough money allowable for bridge construction.
10. Cable ferries – This kind can also be referred to as a chain ferry, which is usually associated with a pontoon ferry, where its’ means of moving is only by being propelled along and steered by cables that are connected to each shore. Cable ferries could also sometimes be human powered by a crew on the boat. A reaction ferry is a kind of cable ferry that uses the perpendicular force of the water’s current as its’ source of power.
11. Foot ferries – This is a kind of cable ferry used to transport passengers and often cyclists across the river. They are only small in size.
Ferry boats often dock at facilities specially designed to position the boat for loading and unloading, called a ferry slip. If a boat carries vehicles or railway carriages, an adjustable ramp called an apron is usually used, and it could also be part of the slip, or it could be attached to the boat itself.