Manhattan is an island which makes a boat tour or cruise an ideal way to see and learn about its famous skyline in addition to viewing New York Harbor's famous sights such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island up close.
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I've sampled several of these options including the Full Island Cruise which is probably my favorite so far, although each cruise has unique features to recommend it. You might prefer a dinner cruise, a sailboat cruise or the excitement of a speedboat thrill ride.
History, romance, fun, excitement, relaxation and great photo opportunities are all available on a New York City cruise.
There are a lot of water tour options — more than 20 New York Boat Tours & Harbor Cruises. There’s also a free NYC Harbor cruise option with good views of the Statue of Liberty — check out my illustrated article on the Staten Island Ferry.
The link in the previous paragraph takes you to a page with all available cruises where it is easy to compare prices, but you’ll have to do a lot of clicking back and forth to get the information you need to make a decision. You may want to read the rest of this page before proceeding.
Three Major Cruise Categories:
While all NYC Cruises and water tours are scenic, one category of NYC Cruise is predominantly about the scenery. A second adds a meal (lunch or dinner) to the experience and the third category is for cruises that are part of a combination package with bus tours and/or helicopter tours.
Scenic NYC Cruises
This first group of cruises encompasses small and large boat and sailboat tours during the daylight hours, sunset and night.
I mentioned above that my favorite New York City Cruise so far is the Circle Line Cruise - 2.5 Hours — a leisurely circumnavigation of Manhattan. Turns out this is also Circle Line’s most popular tour, likely because it is both a bargain and a chance to really relax and enjoy the scenery for two and a half hours. Circle line also has a 1.5 hour and a 1 hour cruise.
Other somewhat similar cruises in this category are the Statue of Liberty Express — a one hour tour on a smaller boat (the yellow New York Water Taxi) focused on lower Manhattan and the famous statue, and two more day time cruises on sailboats; the Daytime Statue Sail on the Clipper City Tall Ship and 90 Minute Daytime Statue Sail on the Shearwater Classic Schooner.
Both sailboats have twilight/night tours: Clipper City Harbor Lights Sails and Clipper City Twilight Sail and Shearwater City Lights Sails. If sailing boats are not your style the somewhat less expensive Statue By Night is a good option. There is even a 4.5 hour, family orientated, Forth of July Fireworks Cruise.
New York City Lunch and Dinner Cruises
Luxurious yachts provide another way to enjoy New York’s famous skyline while partaking of a delicious meal including music and dancing!
World Yacht offers two dinner menu options sailing every day at 7:00 PM (boarding at 6:00) with pricing slightly higher on Saturday. Check out the Gold Harvest or Gold Harvest Premier Menus.
Spirit Cruises offers both Grand Lunch and Dinner Buffet cruises. A less expensive yacht cruise experience with singing waiters, DJs and breathtaking views.
New York City Combination Cruises
To really see New York a combination tour is definitely the way to go! Combining Hop-on, Hop-off double-decker bus tours, tickets to attractions and water tours can also be quite cost effective.
The simplest option in this category is the Downtown Tour + Statue which combines the 24 hour pass to the downtown loop double-decker bus tour with a ferry ticket to Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Home of the Immigration Museum. The downtown tour can also be combined with tickets to either the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building or with a 90 minute NY Harbor Midtown Cruise.
Even better values can be achieved with the Super Downtown Tour — which adds a ticket to either the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock (my favorite), or the Super New York Tour with 72 hours of double-decker sightseeing on the Downtown, Uptown & Harlem, Brooklyn, Bronx and Night tours, a 90 minute cruise, ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island and either the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock Observation Decks.
More combination tours feature several variations of the All Around Town Tour — 48 hours of double-decker sightseeing on the Downtown, Uptown & Harlem, Brooklyn, Bronx and Night tours — with attraction tickets such as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Empire State Building or Top of the Rock Observation Decks or even a helicopter tour.
Last of all, check out the Shop, Hop and Top 4 Day Value Package with all the double-decker tours (96 hour pass), Museum of the City of New York, cruise, ‘Eat & Play card’, Empire State Building or Top of the Rock and round trip bus to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets®.
I hope the preceding information has made it easier for you to choose among the more than 20 New York Boat Tours & Harbor Cruises currently available. Just follow the link to book your memorable experience.
Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2014 Lee W. Nelson