Best Boat Tours in New York City

Explore the high seas in the Big Apple!

There are many ways to explore all that New York City has to offer, like walking, a quick train ride or a view from above. However, one of the best ways to take a tour is by boat. Dozens of sailboats, yachts and ferries leave the city’s piers every day and travel along the East River and New York Harbor. They’re always open to taking passengers on board to see the Manhattan skyline along the water. You’ll never look at the city in the same way again after taking a voyage on one of these boat tours.

New York City’s Best Boat Tours

Circle Line Best of NYC

It isn’t easy to see all of New York City in one day, but Circle Line is determined to try, thanks to their Best of NYC cruise. This cruise leaves out of Pier 83 and takes passengers on a complete circle around Manhattan Island. You’ll have the perfect view of every landmark on their outdoor decks, such as the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium! There’s even an opportunity to take a picture at the Statue of Liberty at its photo stop and munch on a sandwich or salad, thanks to the cafe on board. The tour lasts two and a half hours, so it’s the perfect way to see everything you want in one afternoon. 

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise New York | WhereTraveler
Sightseeing Cruise (Courtesy Circle Line)

City Lights Cruise on Yacht Manhattan

New York City is known as “the city that never sleeps,” thanks to the thousands of lights lit up at night. If you genuinely want to see what it looks like at that time, take a ride on City Lights Cruise on Yacht Manhattan from Classic Harbor Line. Passengers leave out of Chelsea Piers on a 1920s-inspired yacht to find the city skyline aglow against the night sky. The ship sails around New York Harbor in a climate-controlled cabin, so you won’t have to worry about the weather stopping your nighttime voyage. This is the perfect cruise to take if you’re looking for a different kind of date night to spend with the one you love.

The BEAST Speedboat

If you’re looking for a more exciting way to see the city by water, take a ride on The BEAST Speedboat. This speedboat leaves out of Pier 83 to send passengers on a fast-paced tour of New York Harbor. The Beast rides to the Statue of Liberty and back thanks to its twin jet engines, and you’ll have plenty of time to fit in other activities during your day in the city since each tour is only 30 minutes long. Be sure to look out for the green speedboat when you arrive, so you know where to go for the most action-packed tour the city has to offer. 

The BEAST Speedboat and the Statue of Liberty New York | WhereTraveler
The BEAST Speedboat and the Statue of Liberty (Courtesy The BEAST Speedboat)

Shearwater Daytime Cruise

You may want to take your time while you cruise around the city, so Manhattan by Sail will be the tour for you. Its Shearwater Daytime Cruise leaves out of North Cove Marina in Battery Park for an hour-and-a-half-long voyage along New York Harbor. Passengers can step on board a classic schooner that brings them up close to the water and famous city landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This cruise is perfect for small groups of family and friends to enjoy together.

Whale Watching NYC Adventure Cruise

Did you know you can go whale watching in New York City? Thanks to Event Cruises NYC, you’ll find a different kind of city tour thanks to its Whale Watching NYC Adventure Cruise. This tour leaves out of Pier 36 and lasts for four and a half hours, creating a different kind of day trip for city visitors. When you step on board, you’ll have the chance to see a variety of whale species and even bottlenose dolphins swimming beside the most famous landmarks. There’s also food and beverages on board, so you’ll never have to leave the ship to make the day complete. You won’t want to miss a second of the views on this cruise.

Whale Watching | WhereTraveler
Whale Watching (©Georg Wolf)

Bateaux New York Premier Lunch Cruise

If you want to add some style to your city tour, take a ride on Bateaux New York Premier Lunch Cruise. This ship seats guests inside a glass deck, giving them the perfect view of the city skyline during their ride. They’ll find an elegant lunch waiting for them on board, complete with the finest entrees, salads and desserts on the water. The ship leaves out of Pier 61 in Chelsea Piers and sails along both the East and Hudson Rivers, so you’ll have a complete view of the city during your meal. Top it off with a live pianist accompanying you every step of the way, and you’ll have the perfect waterfront lunch for a summer day in the city.