There are 3 different ferry services in London and their pricing, payment methods and opening times are all different.
The Woolwich ferry is for those who drive (or walk) and need to go from North to South or vice versa. It connects Woolwich and North Woolwich, hence the name.
Fares: the Woolwich ferry is free for cars and on-foot passengers.
Opening times: 6.10 to 20 everyday including Saturdays and bank holidays. And from 11.30 to 19.30 on Sundays.
Frequency: weekdays it runs every 5 to 10 minutes depending on the time of the day. Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays it runs every 15 minutes.
Tips: During rush hour there are long queues if driving and the wait can be up to one hour on bad days. Alternatives include the Blackwall Tunnel and Central London Bridges, or further away the Dartford Crossing.
The river bus is the ferry option for those who commute. There are 21 piers between Putney and Woolwich, and with the large savings on season tickets they can be a great alternative to trains, buses or the underground if you need to use it regularly.
Fares: fares vary depending on where you start and end your journey. You can buy single paper tickets or season passes (weekly, monthly, and yearly which can save you up to 75% of the fare). You can also pay with contact less, an Oyster card or the Thames Clippers app and receive a small discount. If you have a travel card loaded on your Oyster then you receive 1/3 off. Children under 5 travel for free, and children between 5 and 15 pay half the price. There is also a daily hop-on/hop-off ticket and combined tickets (with London attractions) for tourists.
Opening times: 5am to midnight on weekdays and 8.30 till almost 1am during the weekend, but times vary depending on the pier.
Frequency: in some piers it could be 5 minutes in others up to one hour.
Tips: if you use an oyster or contact less you need to touch in and out and a member of staff has to see you. All services have a cafe on board.
River tours are mostly for tourists who want to enjoy the sights of London. There are many licensed providers who vary from express Central London to Greenwich trips to fine dinning with tour guides.
Fares: they vary massively depending on the service and the provider. Many offer the same discounts as the River bus.
Opening times: some run on a regular timetable and some are special services.
Frequency: some operators have services every 20 minutes, other operate only on special days.
Tips: research your trip before you pay! There are many options for river tours, so it’s not a good idea to just go to a pier and get on the first ferry that comes around. All service providers have websites, check what they offer, times and fares ahead of time. You can find all the providers and links to their websites here.