New York City
Boat Tours & River Cruises

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New York City boat tours: Everything you need to know

Although we automatically think of the Hudson River when it comes to New York City, the city actually has two more rivers. The East River separates Manhattan from Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Long Island City, and the Harlem River marks the border with the Bronx borough.

Do you dream of seeing the city from a new angle or are curious to know the location of "Miracle on the Hudson?” Have a look at some suggestions for New York City boat tours to make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

Skyline cruises in New York City

Even if you’re visiting New York for the first time, we bet you’ll be able to point out the most famous buildings. The Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and the One World Trade Center are just some of the well-known landmarks you can spot from the Hudson River.

In the city that never sleeps, you can choose from a variety of boat tours focusing on the iconic skyline. Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy the Official NYC Architecture Cruise, where actual architects double as travel guides for three hours. Can you guess how many bridges are around Manhattan? Well, after the cruise, you'll probably be able to name a few more than the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and Queensboro Bridge.

Other skyline-themed cruise options include 60- to 90-minute trips from the East Side to the West Side. All come with plenty of selfie-perfect backgrounds and a guest appearance by Lady Liberty.

Dinner cruises in New York City

Can you imagine having dinner with your own view of New York City? Enjoy a meal of Italian beef meatballs from your private table as the (appropriately named) Spirit of New York cruises along the East and Hudson rivers. Wrap it all up with dessert, drinks on the rooftop lounge, and dancing to the beat of the onboard DJ.

If you’re looking for an authentic sailing experience, climb aboard the 1929 vintage schooner Shearwater. It’s not just a yacht; it’s a floating landmark that will take you on a two-hour sailing and wine tasting expedition around Manhattan. Cheese and snacks are included.

Statue of Liberty cruises in New York City 

A gift from the French in the 1800s became New York City’s most famous attraction. The Statue of Liberty stands for freedom and once stood as a beacon of hope for immigrants arriving on Ellis Island. The best way to see its full glory? On a river cruise with unobstructed views.

But if you want the full experience, choose the Statue of Liberty: Pedestal Express and Ellis Island tour. You’ll get skip-the-line admission to the Statue, the Pedestal, and the Museum, plus live guided tours. 

River taxis in New York City

What color are typical New York river taxis? Yellow, of course. Hop-on Hop-off NYC Water Taxis are a unique and fast way to get to top attractions in one day. Water Taxis stop at Pier 83 (near Hell’s Kitchen), Slip 6 - Battery Place (World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial, and view to Statue of Liberty), Pier 16 (view to Brooklyn Bridge), and Pier 1 - DUMBO (Brooklyn).

If you prefer a ferry experience, choose a classical hop-on hop-off boat tour around Manhattan. These ferries stop at most of the same places but also include a ticket to see the view from the top of the One World Observatory.

New York City river cruise tips

If you're planning to combine sightseeing on land and the river, look for a cruise that includes access to attractions. A hop-on hop-off option is also a great idea if you’re an active sightseer.

Wear flat, comfortable shoes and pay extra attention when getting off and on the boat. 

In addition to going on river cruises, you can also experience life like a local and catch one of the commuter ferries. The Staten Island Ferry runs 24/7 and since it’s free, it’s also a great alternative if you’re on a tight budget. You’ll get views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. NYC Ferry and NY Waterway are the two other companies operating commuter ferry routes.


Other Sightseeing Options in New York City

Want to discover all there is to do in New York City? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about New York City

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 6,150 reviews

We had an amazing, awesome guide for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island, she was very informative and made it an exciting experience.

It was a great experience. The city look great and the Statue of Liberty was the great highlight. The food and service was excellent

Staff was great, boarding and departing were very efficient. Great experience, Thank you will be back

It was a beautiful day so the city looked fabulous! They also had a cafe on 2 levels.

Great ext, very knowledgeable guide, made fun and informative. Highly recommend!