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Best Moment to Take a Cruise in NYC

Cruising in New York is always a good idea, but if you want to pick the right time for the perfect sailing, take note.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

5 min read

Best Moment to Take a Cruise in NYC

View of the Statue of Liberty from the Hudson River | ©Thank You (21 Millions+) views

If you have decided to take a cruise in New York and enjoy the wonders of the Big Apple from the water, you will not regret it, no matter when you do it. Of course, the offer of cruises in the city is so varied that it is worth thinking a little before booking to decide when is the best time to embark.

Depending on when you go to the city, the weather during that season of the year or the type of cruise you prefer, keep the following in mind when booking:

What is the best time of day to take a cruise in New York?

New York skyline at sunset from the cruise ship| ©William Warby
New York skyline at sunset from the cruise ship| ©William Warby

If this is your first time in New York and you want to be amazed by the detailed views of the city, it is best to choose a sunset cruise. This will allow you, on the one hand, to see the city under the last rays of daylight, with an orange sky that changes color at times giving way to the lighting of the bridges and skyscrapers of the city.

The atmosphere is very intimate, it will allow you to rest and relax during the crossing after a long day of sightseeing in New York and you will really have a 2 for 1: the city by day and the city by night. This is the best plan to close an intense day of sightseeing in the city that never sleeps.

There are cruise options that offer dinner on board and are a truly premium experience. Take a look at this article on the best dinner cruises in New York to learn a little more about what they offer and what these tours consist of.

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The best time to board if you want to take good photos

Tourists taking a morning cruise| ©Kévin et Laurianne Langlais
Tourists taking a morning cruise| ©Kévin et Laurianne Langlais

If you care about taking pictures but you are not an expert, probably the best time is during the morning, to catch the high sunlight and capture the details of the Manhattan skyline, the views of the Hudson, the bridges below...

Besides, the fact that there is natural light will make it easier for you to take pictures, since you won't have problems with blurred photos, artificial lights sneaking into the photo, etc. The photos will be perfect even with your cell phone!

If you are an experienced photographer or have mastered your camera for night photography, the images you will capture at night* are spectacular, worthy of a wallpaper!

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The best time to take a cruise according to your travel plan

Cruise with the Statue of Liberty in the background| ©Smart Destinations
Cruise with the Statue of Liberty in the background| ©Smart Destinations

Something very important to take into account is what other activities you are planning during your trip, if it is your first time in the city, if you are traveling in winter or in summer... These are the main recommendations according to some assumptions:

  • If you are traveling for the first time to New York: at sunset.
  • To celebrate a special occasion or a romantic date: night cruise (with or without dinner).
  • If you are traveling in summer: night cruise (during the day it can be too hot)
  • If you are traveling in winter: daytime cruise to take advantage of the midday heat
  • If you are an expert photographer: night cruise (set your camera's ISO and enjoy!)
  • If you are an amateur photographer: daytime cruise (the photos will turn out well).
  • If you plan to go up to a skyscraper viewpoint during the day: night cruise
  • If you plan to go up to a skyscraper viewpoint at night: daytime cruise
  • If you are going to take a helicopter ride during the day: night cruise
  • If your idea is to tour the area around the pier after the cruise: daytime cruise
  • If you want to take advantage of the ferry ride on your visit to the Statue of Liberty: day cruise

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Is it a good idea to take an evening cruise?

Dinner cruise| ©vtravelled.com
Dinner cruise| ©vtravelled.com

Taking a cruise at night is an unforgettable experience, there are options that include a buffet dinner or a gourmet dinner, live music... The navigation takes place aboard real luxury boats in which you will feel like a VIP in the New York night.

Whether you are traveling in winter or in summer, don't worry: the boats have a covered part to protect you from the cold.

There is also a cruise that sails at night aboard a classic sailboat and will take you to see the highlights of the city lit up for a tighter budget than the night dinner cruises. As you can see, there is an option for every budget!

Book a dinner cruise in New York

Best time of the week to embark on a Hudson River Cruise

Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the cruise ship| ©bryan...
Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the cruise ship| ©bryan...

Day cruises have daily departures throughout the week and do not interrupt service during the weekend, so unless there is a holiday during your travel dates, you can book any day of the week and the experience will be just as good.

Some night cruises sail only from Thursday to Saturday, so check online the availability and schedules of the cruise that suits you best to ensure you get a place on the ship and that nothing tarnishes your experience.

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Best time of the year to take a cruise in Manhattan

Sunset views of Manhattan| ©Phil Dolby
Sunset views of Manhattan| ©Phil Dolby

Mild temperatures will be a good ally when it comes to cruising Manhattan, so spring, summer and fall are the best seasons of the year to embark. In fact, there are some companies that interrupt their service during the months of January and February.

However, most of them continue to operate and only cancel the trip in case of extreme weather conditions (in that case you will be refunded or offered another date if you still want to take the cruise).

If you are traveling in summer and the temperature forecast is excessively high, you may want to choose a later time, between sunset and evening, so that you can enjoy the views on deck without having to be under the sun on a very hot day.

Even so, remember that the boats have a covered area where you can take shelter from the cold or heat if you need it.

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Best dates to take a cruise in New York City

Covered Hudson River Cruise| ©Tony Fischer
Covered Hudson River Cruise| ©Tony Fischer

As we mentioned, as long as the temperature is warm, the experience will be even better. However, if you are traveling on special dates or days, keep in mind that either there is no cruise service (such as Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year's Day) or what is offered are special cruises at a much higher price.

This is the case on Independence Day (July 4th) and New Year's Eve (December 31st), where the Hudson River witnesses a fireworks show and the cruises have special departures so you can enjoy the show while sailing the waters of New York.

If you are traveling on holidays or long weekends, it is advisable that, in addition to checking that the service operates normally, book in advance: when the influx of tourists is very high in the city, some tours may sell out.

Book a cruise in New York