Statue of Liberty scams, yes. There’s a risk of being swindled on any vacation.
Any seasoned traveler has probably been pickpocketed or scammed by fake taxi meters at some point. Luckily, New York City is a safe city and we have very few serious criminal scams. Still, there are a few things to look out for, especially when it comes to buying tickets for New York’s most famous attraction: The Statue of Liberty. We’re here to tell you about some common Statue of Liberty scams.
Liberty Island is a small, isolated island. It’s owned by the United States government and both the statue and the grounds are run by the National Park Service. This is also true of Ellis Island, the historic immigration museum right next to Liberty Island. There’s only one way to get to Liberty and Ellis Islands and that is to take a ferry operated by the park service’s exclusive operator, Statue Cruises.
The simplest way to avoid scams or confusion is to purchase your ferry tickets directly from statuecruises.com. It’s the only official place to purchase those tickets and it guarantees that your tickets are legitimate. If you were trying to research this on your own, though, and you search for “statue of liberty tickets,” the first thing that pops up is an ad for statueoflibertytickets.com. You click, and are then directed to a site offering a few different options for ferry tickets. While this site is selling legitimate tickets for the Statue Cruises services, it’s doing it at a significant markup. The list price on Statue Cruises website is $18, but on statueoflibertytickets.com the same exact product is $25. To be clear, this is not a ticket for some enhanced experience. It is the exact same ticket for the exact same boat with the exact same amenities. A ticket to the statue’s crown costs $21 through Statue Cruises but goes up to $28 on statueoflibertytickets.com. This is, essentially, scalping. Statueoflibertytickets.com is just adding a $7 fee to every ticket. You can avoid this scam (and others like it) by exclusively purchasing tickets through Statue Cruises.
Street Vendor Scams
Things are even sketchier elsewhere. As soon as tourists alight from buses or subways anywhere near Battery Park, for instance, they get swarmed by a gaggle of ticket sellers. Their lead-in questions sound innocuous. It’s common to hear something like “Do you have tickets for the Statue?” or “Going to see the statue?” or maybe even “Looking for the boat?” Whatever they say, it’s bound to be both vague and urgent. As soon as you answer “yes” you will find yourself being sold a ticket for some dubious offering. Sometimes it’s a legitimate tour that sails past, but not to the statue. Other times they are reselling real Statue Cruises tickets at inflated prices. Maybe the tickets are packaged with expensive helicopter tours, or maybe they’re simply reusing discarded tickets, a veritable Statue of Liberty crown tickets resale. Whether you are being scammed for a few bucks or sold entirely fake goods, there’s nothing good that comes from dealing with these shady vendors. If you are in Battery Park and looking to purchase tickets (or pick up pre-bought Statue Cruises tickets), just go directly to the inside of Castle Clinton and go straight to the ticket windows.
This scam also works well for those trying to ride the nearby Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is a free commuter service offered by New York City and it’s very popular with tourists for the views of the Statue of Liberty. As you approach the terminal, there will be ticket agents asking if you have a ticket. Savvy visitors know that you don’t need a ticket for the ferry; however, every time I ride the ferry, there are many folks being sold fake tickets or hustled onto expensive boat tours. I once rode the ferry with a family member who grew concerned when a ticket agent told us that we were late for the last boat. I calmly informed him the Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hours a day. Stay on your guard.
Other Statue of Liberty Scams
There’s one final piece of information that will get a few people in trouble. Statue Cruises offers three different ticket levels for a visit to Liberty Island. Level one is simply access to the island and the grounds. Level two is the same price and includes visiting the pedestal of the statue and the museum inside. It’s the same as the grounds tickets but includes more access—and more security lines. The final and most limited level is access to the crown of the statue. This is kept to only a few hundred people a day and costs $3 more. This pass is also the only way to skip to the front of the massive security line. Lots of resellers will tell you that their ticket skips the line — but that’s only the short ticket line. The massive line is for security and only crown ticket holders get to skip that.
Check the fine print for if you buy tickets through any secondary site, or if you’re going to use a pass book like CityPASS or New York Pass. Those passes usually only guarantee a grounds ticket. If you want to redeem any kind of voucher, you will need to contact Statue Cruises in advance for a pedestal or crown pass. So, don’t assume that your voucher automatically gets you inside the statue. Do some research and planning, buy tickets from Statue Cruises directly; don’t fall for these Statue of Liberty scams and you’ll have a great visit to New York’s leading lady.
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