Fancy ferry pleases on the way to Cape May


Passengers who drive their vehicles onto the newly refurbished ferry Twin Capes for the 70-minute crossing of Delaware Bay between Lewes, Del., and Cape May, N.J., are not likely to mistake it for a cruise ship.

But neither will they confuse it with an ordinary ferry -- not with two of its three air-conditioned passenger decks fully enclosed, an outdoor cafe with a bar, two elevators connecting the car deck to the passenger deck, a children's playroom, a food court and a 100-seat glass-enclosed dining area linked to a mezzanine lounge by a spiral staircase.

Designed after European ferries, many of which offer meals and other comforts in addition to basic transportation, the 1,000-passenger Twin Capes is said by its owner and operator, the Delaware River and Bay Authority, to be the only one of its kind in the United States.

The ferry's $27 million overhaul was financed entirely from revenues collected by the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the New Castle (Del.) County Airport.

The four other ferries in the fleet will also be remodeled and refurbished over time, beginning with the Cape May this fall.

Apart from the creature comforts, the refurbishment included advanced radar systems that can detect and display obstacles during bad weather, and what is said to be the first airplane-style evacuation chute to be used on a ferry in the United States.

Fares for all five ferries are $18 for auto and driver; $4.50 for passengers 13 and older; $2.25 for those ages 6 to 12. Rates vary for foot passengers, and there is a variety of fares that include sightseeing or shopping in nearby towns on either shore.

For rates and times of departure, call (800) 643-3779. For a $5 fee, reservations may be made by calling (800) 717-7245. Travelers may specifically request a spot on the Twin Capes when reserving space.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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