Maybe one of your #summergoals this year is to be on boats more. What’s not to love about a boat? The trouble is access. In New York, we are surrounded by water, but we’re not always sure how to get out on it without either knowing a boat captain personally or else paying a pretty penny. Whether you fancy a yacht, sailboat, cruise ship or ferry; want to go out fishing, brush up on your knowledge of waterfront history, whale watch, peep Coney Island fireworks, or just go on a joy ride, we rounded up eight ways to get out onto the NYC waterways without going overboard, financially. This will be part one of our two-part summer boating series; check back later this week for our guide to self-powered boats—where to kayak, canoe, and paddle in Brooklyn on the cheap.
Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure Cruises
American Princess Cruises/Gotham Whale
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, noon-4pm
Thru Sept. 2
Departure: Riis Landing
Gotham Whale, the whale research and advocacy organization, has partnered up with American Princess Cruises to offer whale and dolphin watching trips. The four hour ferry boat rides depart from Riis Landing in Breezy Point, right across from the main entrance to Fort Tilden, and cruise out into the Atlantic Ocean to spot cetaceans, which are turning up more and more frequently in New York waters.
Naturalist Paul Sieswerda, who heads Gotham Whale, will be on board to lecture. Concessions and drinks are sold, cash bar only; you can bring your own snacks, but no outside beverages are permitted. You can purchase tickets day of aboard the boat, but reservations are recommended.
Staten Island Ferry
Every half hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Departs from Whitehall Terminal Manhattan
Arrives St. George Terminal Staten Island
The Staten Island ferry might be one of NYC’s best kept secrets — at least, to those who don’t use it for commuting purposes. For recreational purposes, it’s essentially the cheapest water bar in all of the city: it’s free to ride, and beers aboard go for $3 or $4, aka, cheap AF. Not to mention, it provides stellar views of Lady Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, too.
Trips last about 25 minutes, and you can go back and forth ostensibly as many times as you’d like — if this is your plan, maybe avoid rush hour. I once attended a birthday party that consisted of riding the ferry back and forth until everybody got too drunk and had to go home. If you want to get off the boat in Staten Island, hit up the Mother’s Pug Saloon, a punk rock/old man dive bar just a short bus ride from the port.
Sunset Park Cruise
Hudson River Park/American Institute of Architects
Monday, Aug. 15
departure:Pier 62, Chelsea
$48 adults, $32 students
Admission includes one free drink
This 90-minute sunset cruise on a 1920s-style yacht sounds like the perfect way to end a summer Monday. If you’re keen on architecture and city planning as it pertains to the NYC waterfront, then this is certainly the ride for you: staff from Hudson River Park and an AIA architect will lecture on the history and design of the park as you take in sunset skyline views and enjoy a complimentary drink.
If you’d like to go out fishing, but don’t have anybody to take you, you might want to check out one of these companies down in Sheepshead Bay that offer fishing charters. They’re all located in the Sheepshead Bay Harbor, along Emmons Avenue.
The rates vary slightly among the companies, but they basically all offer half-day trips (7am-noon, or 7am-3pm, or 1pm-5pm) and nighttime trips from 7pm-midnight. They provide bait and buckets, but you’ve got to bring your own pole, or rent one for $5. Definitely check out Groupon to shave the price off a few of these charters.
If sailing by starlight, or, err, city lights, is your thing, check out this 90-minute night time ride on the Clipper City Tall Ship, which has a rich nautical history, from its original iteration as a Civil War cargo schooner to 20 years spent as a charter vessel in Baltimore, to its life as a recreational sailboat today. Full bar available on board.
Circle Line Hello Brooklyn Cruise
Thru September 5
Departure: Pier 83, West 42 street & 8th Ave.
This cruise may depart from Midtown West, but it takes you downstream for a two-hour tour of the Brooklyn waterfront, from the Southern shores of Bay Ridge to the Northern coast of Greenpoint, providing history lessons along the way.
It might be a tad touristy — its tagline is “The Brooklyn tour that won’t let you fuhgeddaboudit” — but still, with departures at 2:30pm daily, this will certainly make for a good summer Friday activity: get out of the coffice and get the fuck on a boat! Use the code CRUISE25 for 25 percent off.
East River Ferry
Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO
N. 6th Street, Williamsburg
India Street, Greenpoint
Schedule varies by location; check here
$4 single ride weekday; $6 single ride weekend
The East River Ferry, like the Staten Island Ferry, is another no-brainer, accessible boat access that for some reason it’s easy to forget exists. You can commute to midtown or downtown on it, or you can dock-hop around Brooklyn — a quick jaunt from Greenpoint to Williamsburg, or Williamsburg to DUMBO—or speed on over to Governor’s Island, perhaps even this Saturday, in celebration of City Water Day.
It makes for a fun Saturday diversion, and a welcome weekday subway alternative. You can bring your bike aboard for $1 fee, in case you want to go out by sea, return home by land.
Coney Island Firework Cruises
American Princess Cruises
Fridays July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 12
Boarding at 730, departure at 8pm
Got a few Friday date nights to plan out this summer? How about taking your honey or your Tinder date on a Coney Island firework cruise? Sounds like something out of Brooklyn the movie—minus the Tinder date, of course. You could always just take your friends, since you’re sure you like them. Trips head out at 8pm from Riis Landing and linger near the shore of Coney Island to take in the sparks, returning around 930 or 10 pm. Full cash bar on board.