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Duration of the New York Cruises

Seeing the New York skyline from the water is wonderful and touring the city while relaxing on a boat, too. But how long do these cruises last and how much time do you need to make the most of it?

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

5 min read

Duration of the New York Cruises

Enjoy the beautiful sights of New York City | ©Anthony Fomin

New York is amazing by land, air and also by sea (and river!). In this case we're all about getting to know Manhattan from the water, but when it comes to booking a cruise on the Hudson it's normal to have doubts. There are a multitude of itineraries, prices and durations and the choice can be overwhelming.

But don't worry, because I have prepared this guide so you know how long each cruise lasts and what differences there are in the itinerary of each one, so choosing will be much easier. Keep reading!

Duration of Manhattan cruises

Pier Cruise| ©Roland Turner
Pier Cruise| ©Roland Turner

The cruises that ply the waters of Manhattan can last from an hour and a half for the shortest ones to three hours for the longest ones. Depending on the time you have available, you can embark on an express cruise that takes you from the south of Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty or you can spend a relaxing evening touring New York by boat while quietly enjoying its skyline.

There are also intermediate options that will take you around Manhattan in about two hours or two and a half hours and you can choose to do it during the day, when the light hits the skyscrapers and the chaos of the city or at night, when New York vibrates more than ever with its lights under the starlight.

Comparative table of cruises by duration

  • Cruise: From Midtown to Brooklyn Bridge
  • From $ 37
  • 1h 30 min
  • Daytime
  • Standard boat
  • From Brooklyn Bridge to Statue of Liberty
  • Book now
  • New York City Lights Cruise aboard Clipper City
  • From $ 55
  • 2h
  • Night
  • Classic sailing boat
  • Up to Midtown & Statue of Liberty
  • Book now
  • Cruise: Around Manhattan and Statue of Liberty
  • From $ 44
  • 2h 30 min
  • Daytime
  • Standard boat
  • Complete Manhattan & Statue of Liberty
  • Book now
  • Dinner Cruise: Gourmet 3-Course Meal
  • From $ 228
  • 3h
  • Night
  • Luxury boat
  • Full Manhattan & Statue of Liberty
  • Book now

How long are New York dinner cruises?

Enjoy an unforgettable evening| ©Siniz Kim
Enjoy an unforgettable evening| ©Siniz Kim

Dinner cruises in New York are, logically, the most extensive and last three hours. During the tour, they circle almost all of Manhattan and take you as close as the Statue of Liberty. This way, you will have the best views of Brooklyn, Manhattan and all its illuminated skyline.

The boat is much larger and more luxurious than the day or standard cruises and they move at a slow pace so that the evening runs smoothly and relaxed and diners enjoy a nice dinner, can get up during the tour.... There's even live music!

On these longer, slower cruises, you hardly notice the rocking of the boat on the water and the sensation is very pleasant. It is an experience to relax and spend an unforgettable night on board, without rushing.

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How long is the shortest cruise in Manhattan?

Admire the beautiful views of New York| ©allmikesphotos
Admire the beautiful views of New York| ©allmikesphotos

The shortest cruise along the Manhattan waterfront lasts an hour and a half and will take you from southern Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty, around Ellis Island and back to the starting time.

If you don't have a lot of time in the city or just want to experience sailing in New York without having to spend a whole morning or afternoon on the boat, this is a great option. You will have magnificent views of the Financial District and Brooklyn, with its famous Brooklyn Bridge that you will see from a new perspective: from the water!

The cruise takes place aboard a fairly large boat that has indoor and outdoor seating, allowing you to enjoy great views whatever the weather. In addition, the fact that it approaches Ellis Island will give you a more distant perspective of the island of Manhattan that will help you to assimilate the enormous dimensions of its skyscrapers.

Do not expect the most premium experience aboard this ship, but the atmosphere is very good, it is usually not too crowded (unless you happen to do it on a holiday or special date) and you will enjoy it a lot.

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Will I have enough time to see everything on a short cruise and is it worth it?

View of the Statue of Liberty from the cruise ship| ©William Warby
View of the Statue of Liberty from the cruise ship| ©William Warby

If you have little time and it is the only option you can book, go ahead, it will be worth it! After all, you will see from the water the most important skyscrapers of the Financial District (starring the One World Trade Center), the Brooklyn Bridge, a true marvel of architecture and of course, the Statue of Liberty up close.

However, if you can take advantage and dedicate a little more time to the experience, there are two intermediate options that adding only 30 minutes or an hour more of navigation will bring you closer to Midtown, so that in two hours or two hours and a half you can see much more closely the Empire State or Rockefeller Center.

Also, if you open the range to cruises of this length, you can choose to do it day or night, to see lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Midtown with all its illuminated buildings and bridges. For me, it is the best value for money and will allow you to see a large part of the city.

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How far in advance do you need to be to board the ship?

New York Piers| ©Steven Pisano
New York Piers| ©Steven Pisano

Fortunately, boarding does not take too long, as it does not require such strict security checks as helicopter rides, for example. Even so, it is best to be at the pier at least 30 minutes in advance, especially for night cruises that have a large capacity and diners are entering the boat slowly.

Keep in mind that there are some docks that are closer to the subway stops, but they usually require a walk from the subway station to get there. To avoid any setbacks, it is best to go with plenty of time to spare and take the opportunity to get to know the area before boarding, take pictures .... A cruise is a relaxing experience that you don't want to be late or rushing.

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Duration of other boat trips in Manhattan

Don't miss the Hudson River cruise| ©Smart Destinations
Don't miss the Hudson River cruise| ©Smart Destinations

In addition to the scenic cruises that skirt the Manhattan waterfront, there are ferry and water cab services or even free-stop boat rides (where you can hop on and off wherever you want) that will get you from one place to another between Brooklyn and Manhattan but will give you equally good views of the city from the water.

Trips can be as short as 10 to 15 minutes, the time it takes to get from one side of the river to the other.

Check out this article on the New York ferry where I give you some tips on how to use this mode of transportation. You should also know that to get to the Statue of Liberty you will have to take a ferry from Baterry Park which takes about 30 minutes and is also very cheap. It is a good way to jump into the water without wasting too much time and taking advantage of the two experiences in one.

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