Is there anything better than a cruise out on the water, wind in your hair, maybe a cold beer in hand? Yes: a cruise out on the water with a billion-dollar view. To see the best of New York City by boat, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the city skyline to Lady Liberty herself, check out New York Water Taxi’s Statue of Liberty Express.
The Zephyr is your ride for this adventure, a comfortable ship boasting a climate-controlled lounge inside and an open-air deck on top. The cruise runs every 90 minutes, making it easy to schedule. Catch some history as you prepare to board: at the Zephyr’s dock at the South Street Seaport you’ll also find the floating lighthouse Ambrose and the four-masted barque Peking. (You’ll hear all about them from the high-energy tour guide who narrates the ride.)
Take a moment to orient yourself once you’re settled in. You’ll have the unique perspective of being between two skylines. Across the river is Brooklyn, and on the Manhattan side you’ll see a juxtaposition of ancient warehouses and modern skyscrapers. (This will be the first of many, many photo ops.) On New York ferries usually you’ll want to pick a side for the best views, but not on the Zephyr. The captain circles and steers to ensure neither port nor starboard miss a thing.
As you leave the dock, you’ll experience the elements in a way the city doesn’t always allow. Soak in the fresh breezes, bright sun, and sea air—yes, that really is ocean spray; the East River isn’t a river, it’s a tidal estuary of the Atlantic. There are two cash bars with everything from beer to wine to cocktails, plus snacks for further fortification.
The cruise heads up the East River to pass directly under the Brooklyn Bridge, an experience that never gets old. You'll hear the story of Emily Warren Roebling, a secret force behind the engineering of the bridge. From there you’ll get up close with the downtown skyline as your guide provides color on the buildings and the area’s rich history. You’ll learn the story behind the symbols of the architecture of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and you’ll find the best views of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. You'll see Ellis Island, looking like a "Russian fairy palace," in the words of the guide. There’s even a novel look at the Empire State Building, seen for its truly epic size from the Zephyr’s waterfront perspective.
A great surprise of the cruise is discovering how much New York Harbor is still a working waterway. The Zephyr shares the water with ships of every shape, from jet skis to ferries to barges to cruise ships, with a frequency of traffic to rival Times Square.
The Statue of Liberty Express culminates, of course, with a front-row visit to Lady Liberty. This is New York at its most inspirational. The iconic statue is right off the bow and the ship lingers to ensure everyone gets the perfect shot. The narration pauses now and upbeat music comes on, meaning the trip is one-part tour and one-part pleasure cruise.
Savor the ride as you return to port—you're guaranteed to have found at least one new reason to love New York.
The Statue of Liberty Express leaves from Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport, 89 South St., 212-742-1969, nywatertaxi.com. The cruise lasts 60 minutes. January 4 through March 20 10am, 11:15am, 12:30pm, 1:45pm, 3pm. March 21 through December 31 10am, 11:15am, 12:30pm, 2pm, 3:30pm, 5pm.
Other seasonal cruises on the Zephyr include Happy Hour, House on the Hudson dance cruises, a Saturday Night Dance Cruise, Pride, 4th of July, and New Year's.