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What You'll See From a Cruise in NYC

If you are hesitant to embark on one of the cruises that sail around Manhattan, here is a list of the "highlights" that you will see from the ship and that make this experience a must.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

8 min read

What You'll See From a Cruise in NYC

Cruise on the pier | ©Roland Turner

You almost have one foot in New York and you are in the middle of organizing your trip. Among all the experiences and activities the city has to offer, cruising is one of the most popular.

Do you want to know what you will see from the ship on a Manhattan cruise? Take note because this is just an appetizer of what awaits you.

1. Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island

Liberty Island| ©Kevin Dooley
Liberty Island| ©Kevin Dooley

The famous Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, right at the mouth of the Hudson. On a clear day you can see its silhouette from Manhattan, but there's nothing like going around it by boat and getting a close-up view of its massive pedestal, its height and its features.

All the cruise ships that sail Manhattan will take you close to her, so you won't be left wanting to see her up close. It is true that the cruises do not make stops and therefore you will not have the opportunity this time to get off at Liberty Island and take a walk around it, but you will not need to. The views from the ship are amazing.

If you feel like visiting it, the recommendation is to take one of the ferries that leave constantly from Battery Park, near the Financial District. These ferries take you to the Island and you can get off to visit the pedestal or even the Crown of the Statue.

Which cruise ship will you see it from? All itineraries pass through here.

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2. Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge| ©dicau58
The Brooklyn Bridge| ©dicau58

When it opened in 1883 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world (it measures almost 2km!) and with that record-breaking figure it will go down in history as one of the world's most acclaimed engineering works. This famous bridge that stars in millions of photos and postcards of the city connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

It has two floors, one for pedestrians and one for cars and trucks entering and leaving Manhattan. If crossing the bridge on foot is practically mandatory during your visit to the city, navigating under its dimensions will give you a unique perspective.

A piece of advice? No matter when you cruise, you can't miss the bridge both day and night, so mark it on the map because this is one of the key points of the city to which you will have to return a couple of times.

Which cruise ship will you see it from: All itineraries pass this way

3. One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center| ©Joe Mabel
One World Trade Center| ©Joe Mabel

In the heart of the tragedy that marked New York on that fateful September 11, the brand new One World Trade Center was built, which practically guards the entire financial district with its now mythical profile and its glass windows that seem a mirror of the city's sky.

Due to its height, you will not be able to avoid it with your eyes, since it is the new protagonist of the south of Manhattan. If you are struck by its architecture, style and dimensions, perhaps you should also consider the option of climbing to the top of the building to visit the One World Observatory, from which you will have a perfect aerial view of the city.

It is the highest skyscraper you can climb in this area of New York and the views are very different from those you can have from the Empire State or the Top of the Rock: from here the river and its bridges and the Brooklyn skyline will be in the foreground and the feeling of vertigo and adrenaline is assured.

From which cruise ship will you see it: All itineraries pass through here

4. The Financial District Skyline

Financial District Skyline at night| ©James Howard
Financial District Skyline at night| ©James Howard

This is another of the countless postcards we have in mind when we think of New York. The Financial District is the heart of business in Manhattan Monday through Friday. Thousands of workers in suits walk hurriedly through its streets to their offices, banks... Here is also the New York Stock Exchange and the famous Wall Street.

The skyline of this area of southern Manhattan is composed of dozens of skyscrapers (mostly offices) and surrounded by some park or walking area. To get a good perspective of the size of this area, it is best to cross to the other side of the river or go to Governors Island, from where you can take the best pictures.

Fortunately, cruise ships along the Hudson pass through this part of the river to the delight of their passengers, so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the views.

Seeing it illuminated is really impressive, so if you have decided to take a night cruise with dinner, this will probably be the image with which you will always identify your boat ride through Manhattan.

Which cruise ship will you see it from: All itineraries pass through here

5. Empire State Building

Empire State Building seen from the Hudson| ©Patrick Marella
Empire State Building seen from the Hudson| ©Patrick Marella

Another of the icons of New York could not be forgotten by the cruises that ply the Hudson. The Empire State Building is located in the heart of Manhattan, in Midtown, and you will have the opportunity to see it from the ship if you choose a cruise that lasts about two hours or more.

Most cruises also depart from docks located at Chelsea or Hudson Yards, so you have a good chance of seeing it when you *embark and disembark on the shorter cruises as well.

You won't need much time to spot it among the crowd of skyscrapers, as its silhouette and antenna make it unmistakable. If you're left wanting more, remember that you can climb up to its observation deck for incredible views of this part of Manhattan.

Which cruise ship will you see it from? Tours of two hours or more.

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6. Midtown Skyline

Midtown Skyline| ©Ken Lund
Midtown Skyline| ©Ken Lund

It may not be as impressive as the Financial District, but Midtown Manhattan's streets are home to the **city'**s most famous buildings: in addition to the Empire State Building, here you will find the Rockefeller Center with its Top of the Rock, the Chrysler Building, the Flatiron Building... In short, some of the buildings that make New York the preferred destination for millions of travelers around the world.

If you embark during the day on a cruise ship, it is very likely that you will be able to see all or almost all of them as the navigation progresses. Also note that some ships have a guided narration that will help you identify the major buildings as the cruise progresses.

At night, the lights of this part of the city will leave you mesmerized and you will realize why they call it the city that never sleeps.

From which cruise you will see it: In depth, on tours of two hours or more.

7. Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge| ©Bryan Pocius
Manhattan Bridge| ©Bryan Pocius

This beautiful bridge also has the essential function of connecting the south of Manhattan with Brooklyn to Long Island. Although it never reached the prominence of its big brother the Brooklyn Bridge and is newer than the Williamsburg Bridge, the views of this bridge from the water are priceless.

In fact, many tourists cross this bridge to reach the DUMBO area in Brooklyn and take the famous photograph on the legendary street with exposed brick New York buildings and the bridge in the background.

Well, from the boat you will not have the opportunity to take this picture, but the views you will have of this bridge with Manhattan in the background will be much better. Of course, if you want to visit DUMBO, mark it on the map and come back another day because touring this area of Brooklyn, full of trendy cafes and restaurants, is also worth it.

Which cruise ship to see it from: Tours of two hours or more.

8. Governors Island

View of Governors Island from the cruise ship| ©Avi Werde
View of Governors Island from the cruise ship| ©Avi Werde

A little more than a kilometer south of Manhattan we find Governors Island, a small island that until not long ago was a military base. Although a priori it is not included in the top of places to visit in New York City, the truth is that this island, with just over 3000 inhabitants, has enough green area that will make you disconnect from the bustle of downtown Manhattan.

If you don't have time or don't feel like visiting it, don't worry: from the boat you will have a perfect panoramic view of the island and what is even better: the views of Manhattan from this part of the city.

Be prepared to see how the skyscrapers seem to float on the water and to marvel at the sheer size of Manhattan Island. From here you will probably take the best pictures of the cruise, so take out your camera and take the opportunity to capture the panoramic view that your cruise route will give you.

From which cruise ship you will see it: From up close, on tours of two hours or more.

9. The docks of New York Harbor

New York Harbor Piers| ©carlfbagge
New York Harbor Piers| ©carlfbagge

One of the most frequent piers from where, for example, all the cruises of the American company Circle Line depart is Pier 83, in the middle of Hudson River Park.

The embarkation area is easily recognizable and from there you can take a stroll and see all the boats leaving and entering the New York City Harbor.

This is always a very lively area, in Hudson River Park alone you can find up to 12 different piers. There are also green areas with nice views where you can relax before or after the cruise.

If you need to, you will also find restaurants and food stalls where you can recharge your batteries or buy some snacks to enjoy during the cruise.

From which cruise you will see it: All itineraries pass through here

10. Discover the surroundings of the pier

Interior of The Vessel, Huson Yards| ©Clay Banks
Interior of The Vessel, Huson Yards| ©Clay Banks

Cruises usually depart from the west coast of Manhattan, at Midtown. The docks are at the perfect height in Manhattan to organize various experiences or activities in the surrounding area to make the most of your time.

For example, one of the things you can do is stroll around Hudson Yards, Manhattan's trendy new neighborhood, where in addition to the High Linel floating park you will also find The Vessel structure and the city's new observatory: The Edge.

From Pier 83 it's only a 20-minute walk to Times Square, so you can stroll here if you've been discovering this bustling square.

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