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Statue of Liberty Cruise with Classic Harbor Line

Two children on the deck of the boat looking at the Statue of Liberty Interior of the boat Manhattan II Two children look at the window of a boat toward the Statue of Liberty

Viewing some of New York’s most recognizable landmarks from the water, during golden hour, aboard a 1920s-inspired wooden yacht…sounds pretty amazing, right? I can’t believe I’d forgotten about this trip we took last spring until it popped up in my Instagram memories earlier this week, but looking at the photos again I’m reminded of what a fun evening we had!

In a situation that might sound familiar to some other parents, on a weekend afternoon without plans I found myself scratching my head a bit to come up with an idea that could get us all out the door to have a little fun before bedtime. I’m not sure what made me think of it, but I remembered a sunset sail on a wooden schooner offered by Classic Harbor Line that I’d once taken with my mother and sister (highly recommended!) and thought that perhaps a boat ride might fit the bill. The sunset sail seemed more involved and less baby/toddler-friendly than I had in mind, but the 1-hour Statue of Liberty Cruise looked perfect, so tickets were booked and off we went.

Wheelhouse of the Manhattan II with Classic Harbor Cruises Lower Manhattan skyline from the water

We raced down to the pier where the boat, a gorgeous wooden replica of a 1920s-era yacht, was moored with no time to spare and climbed aboard to discover only one other family on the cruise that evening. The captain and crew said this was quite unusual, and it felt so special to have the entire boat mostly to ourselves! With large sliding glass windows on all sides, the interior of the boat was light-filled with gleaming wood and comfortably-cushioned benches and chairs arranged around small tables. Outside, the deck of the boat offered seating around the wheelhouse and railings along the sides that felt high and secure enough to allow me to relax a bit as my 3-year-old and 1-year-old moved about.

Leaving Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers we motored slowly down the Hudson River, the New York City skyline to the boat’s port and the New Jersey shoreline along the starboard. Interspersed in the skyline and easily viewed from the boat were many of New York’s most recognizable towers: the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, and the Woolworth Building. As we left the southern tip of Manhattan behind, we could see Ellis Island and then, quite close, was the Statue of Liberty. The boat slowed so we could take her in for a few moments before turning and heading back to the Pier.

Child walking inside the yacht Manhattan II Life ring on the Manhattan II Child on the deck of the boat Manhattan II looking at the New York City skyline

The price of each ticket includes a glass or two of beer, wine, champagne, or soda and when we went last spring the boat offered a light menu of snacks – think chips, hummus with crudités, cheese plate, etc. – at additional cost (this may have changed since then, though you are also welcome to bring your own picnic aboard, which would be fun with more planning). We ordered a few small snacks and settled with our drinks by the window, watching the sun close in on the horizon and enjoying the feeling of fresh spring air coming through the windows. We marvelled again at the skyline as the boat pulled into the pier, took a quick spin on the nearby carousel (more on that below!), and still made it home in time for bedtime. Sometimes last minute adventures lead to such sweet memories, don’t you think?

A few additional details:

  • Most Classic Harbor Line boats leave from Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers. The closest public transit options are the M23 bus and the A and C trains to 23rd Street. Aim to arrive 20-30 minutes before scheduled departure to leave yourself enough time!
  • A short walk north along the Hudson River Park from the Pier 62 departure point you’ll find the Pier 62 Carousel featuring animals native to the Hudson River watershed. My kids love this carousel, with fun animals like a racoon, bear, and even a sturgeon fish replacing the usual horses!
  •  Be sure to check the full range of ticketed cruises to find the one that best suites your interests and timeframe. As I mentioned, I’d previously done a sunset schooner sail and loved the experience of being out on the water under the power of the wind – so different than being on a boat using a motor the whole time! I haven’t done them yet, but the architecture tours sound fascinating, and in the fall there are foliage rides north along the Hudson River to see the changing leaves. The 1-hour cruise we took is the shortest they offer, perfect for young children or itineraries that don’t leave time for a longer boat ride.
  • Another option for seeing the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan by boat is a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. It runs back and forth between South Ferry in Manhattan and St. George Terminal on Staten Island all day long (every 30 minutes, with even more frequent service during peak rush hour). The Staten Island Ferry won’t bring you as close to the Statue of Liberty as the Classic Harbor Line tour, but it’s free – a big perk!

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