Here's how to avoid those embarrassing ferry goofs and questions. Even if you don't live here, people will wish you did if you follow some basic ferry etiquette.
Bathrooms - Actually called "heads" on board the ferries. Pretty much what you'd expect, except the ladies' room on the busy commuter runs can be an awesome display of traveling hair dryers and a struggle for mirror space that catches some first timers by surprise. Some boats have baby changing rooms or baby changing tables in each rest room.
Bicycles - These load/unload first, but wait for the crew to direct you. Riding on and off the boat's OK. Be careful around cars. If you're late and load after the cars, don't walk your bike between parked cars. And please remove cleated shoes above the car decks.
Cars - Fill the waiting lanes as directed. Don't sneak in at the back of a line. Load and unload only when advised. At night, keep lights off when loading and unloading. Leave about 1 foot between your car and the one in front. Don't activate motion alarms. Open car doors carefully. Remember where your car is parked. Return to your car early before docking. Don't smoke or drink alcoholic beverages in your car. Start your engine only when your lane is about to unload. Loading and unloading is not a perfect world, so allow the crew some latitude. If your battery dies, ask a member of the crew to assist you with the boat's jump start unit. Regulations regarding gasoline and gasoline containers on board a ferry have changed. Gasoline may be transported in limited quantities up to 12 gallons in portable containers, not to exceed six (6) gallon maximum capacity per container. Containers must be UL or USCG approved and in good condition.
Dogs - They can arrive by car or with walk-on passengers. Car canines must stay on the car deck, while walk-on pooches must stay on the sundeck. No dogs are allowed on the passenger deck. Service dogs are the exception and are allowed anywhere. Remind your cur to curtail natural urges for the duration of the voyage.
Elevator - The new Mk II ferries have a passenger elevator. Anyone can use it, but because it's small, please wait if there are those who need it more than you do.
First Aid/Lost & Found - 2nd Mate's office on the passenger deck can lend a hand.
Food & Drink - It's OK to bring and consume food or non-alcoholic drinks on board. Some galleys offers food, non-alcoholic drinks and beer or wine. Only beer and wine purchased on board may be consumed on board, and only in the galley seating area. Please clean up your table and return your trays, thank you very much. And if it's late and the galley's closed, some boats have vending machines too.
Kids - Help them remember to walk, not run, while onboard. (See also, "Noise".)
Motorcycles - These load and unload second, after the bicycles. Late arrivals usually get on board, but may be stuck in the back. The louder ones help wake up the napping car drivers.
Music - Use headphones for all recorded music, so people can read or study quietly. Minstrels sometimes set up and perform on board, but they're wise to pick a remote corner and play quietly.
Noise - Lots of reading, conversing, homework and studying gets done as part of every trip, so keeping voices and noises down is expected. The new Mk II ferries have upper deck lounges where only reading - no conversation - seems to have become the standard.
Phones - No public phones on board. It's OK to use cellular phones anytime, but quietly please. Let us try to guess how important you are.
Recycling - There are well marked receptacles for newspapers, cans and trash. Rummaging for newspapers is acceptable behavior. Not so for cans. We won't even mention choice #3.
Seating - No first class, no coach. It's all open. Busier commuter runs get pretty full, so keep backpacks, briefcases, etc. on the floor and let a neighbor sit down. It's a great way to meet people. Lying down on the bench seats is considered a no-no, especially if the boat's crowded. Some special seating exists for wheelchair passengers - please yield its use to them. Thanks.
Smoking - All WSF boats are now 100% non-smoking. So although the boats may still smoke, you can't.
Video Games - Be aware. If quiet is what you seek, avoid these areas. And if your tyke is doing a coinless dry run, please yield to the 19 year old millionaire software programmer who will dazzle both you and your kid.
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