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Best New York City Sightseeing Cruises

Give your feet a rest while you experience New York City from the water!


For first-time visitors, sightseeing cruises offer a terrific overview and a chance to orient yourself, while learning a bit about New York City's history and architecture. No matter how many times you've visited New York City, these boat rides are a wonderful way to experience the beauty of the city's skyline and waterways. Visitors of all ages will enjoy a sightseeing cruise and most boats can accommodate the special needs of most passengers.

1. Circle Line Full Island Cruise

Boarding New York Circle Line Cruise  South Street Seaport New York City, NY
Prayitno @prayitnophotography flickr.com Creative Commons License
Best Overall
If you've got the time, this three hour cruise will take you all the way around Manhattan, offering participants views of all five boroughs and a chance to see 20 different bridges! During the tour, a guide supplements the views with interesting information about New York City. This tour might be a bit too long for young kids, but it's a great choice for just about anyone else.

2. Zephyr Yacht Harbor Cruise

Best If You're Tight On Time
Circle Line's Zephyr Yacht Harbor Cruise combines the comfort of a yacht ride with the great views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty. In just one hour, you can see much of downtown Manhattan.

3. Classic Harbor Lines

Adirondack Schooner
Photo courtesy of Classic Harbor Lines, used with permission
Best Bet If You Want To Avoid The Crowds
Although their cruises are a tad pricier than some others, Classic Harbor Lines ships are smaller and offer a more intimate, crowd-free experience (their largest ship, the Schooner America 2.0, holds just 75 passengers). You won't have to queue up in a long line to board or disembark and you can even relax and enjoy a drink from the bar during most of their cruises.

4. Circle Line Shark Speedboat

Shark Speedboat Thrill Ride
Best If You've Got School Aged Kids or Teens
Circle Line's Shark Speedboat combines the excitement of a speedboat ride with the great views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty. A great choice for families, the Shark Speedboat ride is fun and a quick way to see the Statue of Liberty up close, and they even stop for a photo-op.

5. The Water Taxi's Hop On/Hop Off Service

Best Tour/Transportation Combination
Water Taxi's Hop On/Hop Off Service offers visitors a tour of the New York Harbor, including great views of Governors Island, as well as the option to hop on and off at stops along the 1 hour route.

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