For a city surrounded by water, New York doesn’t have as strong of a boating culture as other coastal cities—say Miami, Boston or Seattle. Many New Yorkers keep yachts in the Hamptons, leaving Manhattan relatively devoid of the cruisers. Luckily for visitors—and Manhattanites without a Long Island summer home—a slew of boating companies more than makes up for the dearth.
Here’s how to get out on the water and enjoy New York’s summer offshore.
The juggernaut of NYC yacht cruise companies, Hornblower operates six yachts that sail through New York harbor and the Hudson. They offer multiple tour options, though most involve some sort of party atmosphere—the ships have dance floors. Popular cruises include a nightly dinner sail, a live jazz party and a champagne brunch. Enjoy them all as the yachts venture from their West Side piers over to the Brooklyn Bridge, and then out to the Statue of Liberty.
Manhattan by Sail runs two antique ships out of its slips at Brookfield Place and Battery Park. The City Clipper’s design dates to 1854, when it was built as a cargo ship. Today, rebuilt with the original double-mast plans, it is one of the largest passenger sailboats in the country. The 1929 Shearwater Schooner was the last ship constructed in Maine’s East Boothbay boatyard, which closed during the Great Depression.
This summer, American Institute of Architects is continuing its partnership with Classic Harbor Line for its 7th annual season of architecture cruises around Manhattan. AIA guides discuss the city’s buildings as passengers enjoy complimentary champagne and snacks on one of the company’s 1920s-style yachts. The fleet of newly built, but classically-designed ships are smaller than most other lines’, and offer a more intimate experience.
Capitol Princess Fishing Trips takes its Capitol Princess yacht around New York harbor for fishing tours. Visit spots far out in the harbor, with stops near the Statue of Liberty and past the Verrazano Bridge where striped bass is plentiful. A bar on board keeps passengers entertained in between fishing stops.
Join captain Eric Puleio on his yacht, Genesis, for sails around the harbor and East and Hudson rivers. A maximum of six passengers can bring their own alcohol and music (the small yacht has powerful speakers), and Puleio brings sandwiches and fresh fruit. Unlike competitor sailboat charters that use their engines for the majority of their cruising, Puleio relies on the winds to move his graceful wooden boat, meaning his cruises take a leisurely four hours. They’re also capped at just six passengers. For a completely personalized sail, Genesis is available for private charter as well.
Don’t have a whole afternoon? Rent kayaks and stand up paddleboards by the half-hour from Manhattan Kayak and still get those overwater views from the Hudson. The company operates just west of the Knickerbocker Hotel, in the embayment at Pier 84 on 44th St.