New York City is well recognized for its crowded streets and unique skyline, which can be seen from some of the best viewpoints in NYC. But in the spring, the city’s waterways offer an extraordinary perspective that both tourists and locals occasionally overlook. The city’s waterways, such as the Hudson River, the illustrious East River, and the stunning New York Harbor, provide both residents and visitors a variety of possibilities to uncover the hidden charms of the city from a new angle.
With that in mind, the following experiences are some of the top boat cruises in New York City’s waterways that people can best enjoy in spring, emphasizing their picturesque itineraries, thrilling activities, and intriguing history as reasons to go.
Discovering New York City’s Waterways: Boat Tours And Beyond
Here are some of the best ways to explore New York City waterways via renowned and top-rated NYC boat tours.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
New York City Cruise, Battery Park Liberty Island
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises offer a range of narrated tours on a variety of ships, including the historic RMS Mauretania II and the iconic RMS Titanic. They depart from the Upper West Side Pier in Manhattan. History enthusiasts who want to learn about New York City’s extensive maritime history and families who want to experience what it would be like to be on board an actual ocean liner during her prime will love these excursions.
Additional noteworthy features of these tours and their vessels include open-air galleys where guests can dine or enjoy a drink, as well as unique events and displays that allow guests to discover interesting facets of New York City’s past while taking advantage of some free time onboard.
- Price Range: $26 – $43
- Time: 90 minutes
- Hours of operation: Monday – Sunday, 9AM to 7PM
For $43, tourists can experience the “Best of NYC”, which is the cruise that completely encircles the whole of Manhattan.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo
A distinctive viewpoint of one of New York City’s most famous monuments is offered by the Brooklyn Bridge Sightseeing Boat. The Brooklyn Bridge stands in the shadows of the taller and more modern Manhattan Bridge and Queensboro Bridge, but it’s an icon of the city and with good reason. It provides a trip that enables tourists to explore the history of the Brooklyn Bridge and witness its architectural pleasure, in addition to some of the most mesmerizing vistas of the New York City skyline.
Governors Island National Monument near New York
Entering New York Harbor, the historical Governors Island is another must-see destination if visitors are going to New York City. The island was once home to actual prisoners of war and some of the oldest military buildings on the East Coast; however, it’s now a popular tourist attraction with a restored fort and protected parkland.
There are also four museums that offer many educational opportunities and intriguing collections. A harbor cruise is a great way to take in all there is to see, allowing people to observe local wildlife, share photos with other passengers, and help protect the habitat while getting to know New York Harbor like a local.
Hornblower Cruises is one of New York City’s most iconic and reliable boat tour companies, offering a variety of daily boating excursions on the scenic harbor waterways. The company offers several different marinas throughout the city and onboard each vessel, with varying frequencies and itineraries, so passengers can choose a cruise that fits their schedule and interests.
The company boasts sightseeing tours along the Hudson River, cruise-viewing excursions out of Brooklyn to Ellis Island, as well as an array of food and wine pairings. The company also offers special themed cruises that provide insight into the city’s rich history, such as the Women’s Suffrage Series, and special events, such as Hornblower’s annual Flower Show.
- Ticket Prices: $51
- Amenities: Banquet Facilities, Catering, Wi-Fi, American cuisines, Multilingual Staff
There are also buyouts available for groups.
The Statue of Liberty
The statue of liberty in front of the nyc skyline
A one-hour Statue of Liberty cruise is available from Liberty Cruise NYC, which gives passengers a tour of the port and a close-up look at Lady Liberty. Statue Cruises offers a guided trip that allows visitors to visit the pedestal of the statue and the Ellis Island National Museum for those who are interested in learning more about the statue’s significance and history. Tourists are also presented with the opportunity to learn about the history of Ellis Island and its significance to immigrants in the past.
Exploring New York City’s Rivers and Harbors: A Unique Perspective
The rivers and harbors of New York City are also amazing viewpoints for sightseeing. Here are some of the best spots and ways of soaking up the natural scenery of these splendid waterbodies.
The Hudson River
An aerial view of the Hudson River in late fall in Saratoga Springs, New York
The Hudson River is situated in the eastern New York State and is a beautiful and noteworthy stream that runs through the Hudson River Historic District, which offers a wide range of things to see and do. Whether visitors are interested in history, animals, or witnessing some of the most beautiful towns along the Hudson River, exploring this river offers a pleasant and educational experience.
There are many companies that offer guided boat tours of the Hudson River, ranging from short sightseeing trips to longer excursions that explore the river’s history and ecology. For a more relaxed experience, the Classic Harbor Line offers a three-hour cruise that includes a narrated tour of the Hudson River and a stop at the stunning Palisades.
The East River
An aerial view of hell gate bridge in NYC at sunset over the east river
The East River is another essential waterway in New York City, separating Manhattan from Brooklyn and Queens. Hornblower Cruises and Events offer a two-hour Alive after Five Happy Hour Cruise that allows visitors to take in the stunning views of the city while enjoying cocktails and light bites. For a more educational experience, the New York City Architecture Boat Tour provides a unique perspective on the city’s architecture, history, and engineering feats, all while cruising down the East River.
New York Harbor
New York Harbor
The harbor has multiple piers and terminals for freight and passenger traffic, as well as a number of islands like Manhattan, Staten Island, and Ellis Island. At New York Harbor, visitors can learn key historical events like the arrival of European settlers, the Revolutionary Ward, giving the harbor historical past.
In addition to having multiple maritime terminals, marinas, and recreational amenities, the harbor is still a hive of activity today. However, in the springtime, the city’s waterways come alive with activity, offering a unique perspective on the city’s landmarks and history.
- Location: 225 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10003
Why It’s Worth Exploring New York City’s Waterways
There is something incredibly magical about viewing New York City from the water, even though many tourists and locals spend their time in The Big Apple wandering the concrete jungle streets. The vistas are just magnificent when tourists take a boat excursion, especially in the spring, and get a different perspective of the city that most visitors overlook.
Many tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can share interesting facts and stories about the various famous NYC landmarks and neighborhoods that tourists will pass along the way.
View of the New York City skyline from Hoboken at dawn
Tips for Exploring New York City’s Waterways
- Dress appropriately: Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Bring a light jacket or sweater, as it can get cooler on the water, and wear comfortable shoes.
- Choose the right tour: There are many different types of boat tours in NYC, so be sure to choose one that fits the group’s interests. Some tours focus on the skyline and landmarks, while others focus on the history of the city or the ecology of the waterways.
- Book in advance: Boat tours in New York City can sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist season, so it’s a good idea to book tickets well in advance.
- Bring a camera: Travelers will want to capture the stunning views of NYC and its waterways, so bring a camera or smartphone with a good camera.