10 Sights to See on a New York Circle Line Cruise
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A Circle Line cruise is the perfect perch to soak up New York’s famous sights and magnificent skyline.
The modern fleet is designed to provide passengers with an unbeatable water-level sightseeing experience from its large windows and exterior decks.
You won’t waste time waiting in long lines and you won’t pay expensive admission fees. Iconic landmarks of the Big Apple will float as you cruise along the East and Hudson Rivers, with plenty of photo opportunities that will be the envy of Instagram. Expert tour guides narrate throughout, sharing insight, entertaining information, and insider tips.
The interior seats are temperature controlled for comfortable nautical travel in any weather. If your appetite whets, a range of sweet and savory food and beverages, including beer, wine and cocktails, are available for purchase from the onboard cafe.
Whether you’re a tourist visiting for the first time or a local looking to savor the city from a different perspective, prepare for an easy way to get an up-close view of New York’s top attractions when you ride the Circle Line to next 10 views.
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Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
Towering over New York Harbor from its platform on Liberty Island, this majestic statue was a gift to the American people from France. Designed by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with a metal frame built by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, Lady Liberty was consecrated in 1886 and continues to evoke ideals of liberty. You’ll linger long enough to notice details like the seven points of her crown, one for each continent, and the torch she holds above her head in her right hand. You have plenty of time to take as many pictures as you want.
Empire State Building
Empire State Building and Midtown Skyline — Photo courtesy of Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company
Once the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building’s Art Deco architecture and towering height are favorites with residents and visitors alike. Soaring above other notable Midtown skyscrapers, Circle Line passengers get an unobstructed view of this pop culture icon who’s been featured in dozens of movies, starting with ‘King Kong’ in 1933. Each evening, the spire is lit with a dazzling color to match holidays or commemorate events.
A global trade center
One World Trade Center and downtown skyline — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is New York’s tallest structure. Built on the site of the World Trade Center, the boat’s generous decks and windows offer a beautiful glimpse of the imposing glass and steel facade that is an inescapable symbol of hope and rebirth.
Ellis Island — Photo courtesy of Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company
Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island was the first stop for more than 12 million immigrants who came to build a new life in the United States. It’s estimated that around 40% of Americans can trace at least one ancestor to Ellis Island, making it a magnet for those looking for a connection to their family history. The Circle Line takes you nearby for an inside look at the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum, once the main building of the historic Immigration Complex.
A trio of bridges
Cruising under a bridge — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
New York City is flooded with bridges. The Circle Line glides under three of the East River’s most beautiful sights: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge, all connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. As the ship glides below, you’ll see pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and even the subway pass overhead.
Hudson Yards, the ship — Photo courtesy of Related Oxford/NYC & Company
As the ship passes Hudson Yards, one of New York’s newest neighborhoods, it features a dynamic panorama of the Vessel, a futuristic honeycomb structure with 154 interlocking exterior staircases. Look up to where the birds take flight and see Edge, the tallest skybridge in the Western Hemisphere, where those who don’t suffer from vertigo can gaze out from 100 stories above the ground.
small island park
Little Island Park — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
Part of the sprawling waterfront sanctuary known as Hudson River Park, the new Little Island Park is an urban green space suspended above the water by innovative concrete planters in the whimsical shapes of giant mushrooms. Get a top view of the park’s impressive amphitheater and lush foliage as you cruise.
South Street Seaport
South Street Seaport — Photo courtesy of Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company
With the South Street Seaport Museum, shops, restaurants and concerts on the rooftops of Pier 17 merging with some of the city’s most historic architecture, South Street Seaport is both a popular meeting place and tourist attraction. The tall ship Wavertree is permanently moored here, and Circle Line passengers can admire its traditional nautical features, including three masts and an iron hull.
Governors Island — Photo courtesy of Kate Glicksberg/NYC & Company
Governors Island is a favorite respite for New Yorkers in search of fresh air. They hop on a ferry to pedal car-free trails and relax in a shady grove of hammocks. You’ll get a great overview of this serene oasis, including new glamping tents where visitors can spend the night, as the Circle Line passes by.
City of Jersey
Colgate clock — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
The Circle Line doesn’t just show New York, it gives passengers a nice glimpse of a part of New Jersey across the Hudson River. Jersey City is one of the most visually vibrant New Jersey towns you’ll pass through. Its modern skyline is punctuated by a spectacular 80-foot sculpture, Water’s Soul, an alabaster marvel depicting a person’s face with a single finger held to their lips.
The retro Colgate clock, built in 1924, is also visible. Named after the famous brand of toothpaste, this octagonal clock measures 50 feet in diameter, a nod to the Colgate factory that once stood here.
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Details: Circle Line cruises of varying durations and departure times are scheduled daily. The popular Landmarks cruise offers 90 minutes of scenery as it circles around Midtown and Lower Manhattan. The 2.5-hour Best of NYC cruise circumnavigates Manhattan.
Circle Line cruises depart from Pier 83 at 42nd Street and 12th Avenue in Midtown West. If you are driving, parking at the edge of the pier is available.
If you prefer to board downtown, the Liberty Super Express Downtown Cruise departs from Slip 6 in Battery Park, offering a 50-minute ride that gets you up close to the Statue of Liberty in a jiffy.