The 5 Best New York City Sightseeing Cruises

For first-time visitors, sightseeing cruises offer a terrific overview and a chance to orient yourself, while learning a bit about New York City's history and architecture. No matter how many times you've visited New York City, these boat rides are a wonderful way to experience the beauty of the city's skyline and waterways. Visitors of all ages will enjoy a sightseeing cruise and most boats can accommodate the special needs of most passengers.

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    Boarding New York Circle Line Cruise South Street Seaport New York City, NY
    ••• Prayitno @prayitnophotography flickr.com Creative Commons License

    If you've got the time, this three-hour cruise will take you all the way around Manhattan, offering participants views of all five boroughs and a chance to see 20 different bridges! During the tour, a guide supplements the views with interesting information about New York City. This tour might be a bit too long for young kids, but it's a great choice for just about anyone else.

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    Adirondack Schooner
    ••• Adirondack Schooner. Photo courtesy of Classic Harbor Lines, used with permission

    Although their cruises are a tad pricier than some others, Classic Harbor Lines ships are smaller and offer a more intimate, crowd-free experience (their largest ship, the Schooner America 2.0, holds just 75 passengers). You won't have to queue up in a long line to board or disembark and you can even relax and enjoy a drink from the bar during most of their cruises.

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    Shark Speedboat Thrill Ride
    ••• Shark Speedboat Thrill Ride.

    Circle Line's Shark Speedboat combines the excitement of a speedboat ride with the great views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty. A great choice for families, the Shark Speedboat ride is fun and a quick way to see the Statue of Liberty up close, and they even stop for a photo-op.

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    Circle Line's Zephyr Yacht Harbor Cruise combines the comfort of a yacht ride with the great views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty. In just one hour, you can see much of downtown Manhattan.

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    The Water Taxi's Hop On/Hop Off Service

    Water Taxi's Hop On/Hop Off Service offers visitors a tour of the New York Harbor, including great views of Governors Island, as well as the option to hop on and off at stops along the 1 hour route.