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Alive After Five Happy Hour Cruise
Photograph: Courtesy Hornblower

The best dinner cruises in NYC

All aboard! These elegant dinner cruises in NYC turn yachts and steamboats into floating restaurants.

Written by
Time Out contributors
Shaye Weaver
Rhys Thomas

There can’t be many better ways to enjoy dinner with a view than to hop aboard a dinner cruise in NYC. And you know what? That’s why we’ve rounded up the best of the dinner cruise bunch in New York to make that experience even easier. The city sparkles the brightest in the summer (it’s still here, right?) so it’s time to take advantage of the many floating restaurants that sail up and down our two rivers. Rooftop bars and beaches are musts, but a dinner cruise is something special to do with your loved ones. Even the best restaurants in NYC can’t compare to the experience of eating out on the water, and most of these dinner cruises offer prix-fixe menus or buffet meals on enormous three-level ships, sailing taverns and ritzy yachts. Whichever you choose, the ambiance just can’t be beaten. Bon voyage – and bon appetit, too!

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Best dinner cruises in NYC

New York Dinner Cruise
Photograph: Filip Wolak

1. New York Dinner Cruise

Patrons flock to Hornblower’s climate-controlled sun deck for the decadent three-course meal and artisan cocktails. With entrée options like honey sesame chicken, oven-roasted flounder and braised beef short ribs, we can’t blame them. It’s hard to not want to get up and dance as you cruise past iconic New York City landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge to the tunes of a live DJ.

Alive After Five
Photograph: Paul Seibert

2. Alive After Five

Gather your clocked-out coworkers and friends and board the Alive After Five cruise, which makes the most of happy hour—it actually lasts two hours—along the Hudson River in City Cruises’ Sensation yacht. You’ll have two climate-controlled decks to choose from, plus a covered roof deck, and multiple dance floors if that’s your jam. And if you still have sea legs for social life after all that social distancing, the cruise has a DJ to get the party moving. This isn't just a cocktail cruise, there's pasta, Tex-Mex and other food options depending on the admission level you choose.

New York Dinner Cruise
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Wally Gobetz

3. New York Dinner Cruise

Cruise both the Hudson and East Rivers on this two-and-a-half-hour venture set to music from a quality pianist playing classic jazz, blues and Broadway hits. You'll be served a lavish three-course dinner as you marvel at Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building. You'll set a course from Pier 61 and be able to dance and eat the night away with some of the best views of the city going.

Bateaux New York Dinner Cruises
Photograph: Courtesy Bateaux Cruises

4. Bateaux New York Dinner Cruises

Departing from Chelsea Piers, Bateaux offers frazzled New Yorkers a relaxing three-hour, three-course getaway cruise along the Hudson. Pair a romantic view of the Manhattan skyline from a glass-enclosed deck with a veritable feast: Entrées include dishes like miso-glazed cod with oyster mushrooms and sugar snap peas and jumbo lump crab cakes with corn succotash. Sip on cocktails, wine and beer from a fully loaded cash bar while live jazz musicians provide the soundtrack for a twinkly evening aboard this dinner cruise.

Skyline Cruises
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Claudia B.

5. Skyline Cruises

Spend four hours sailing the NYC harbor, gazing out over landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. In the height of comfort, no less, as the decks are climate controlled. There's also a DJ onboard, a dancefloor and an American buffet offering three courses, from short ribs and grilled bruschetta chicken to lemon sole stuffed with crabmeat–stuffed lemon and pasta. It's worth knowing that Skyline caters for brunch and lunch too.

  • Restaurants
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  • Hell's Kitchen

For something a tad more beachy, try this floating three-floor lobster shack at Pier 81. This ship spans 9,000 square feet between the outdoor top deck and bi-level interior dining space and lounge. Set sail every 90 minutes on the Destiny and enjoy a menu featuring a raw bar and fresh New England seafood like Maine lobster, fish tacos and clam chowder. Pair your meal with red and white wine selections, bottled beers and summery signature cocktails served by the glass or pitcher.

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Refreshing agave-based spirits and tasty tacos are now being served onboard a three-story boat in the Hudson River. La Barca Cantina, the only Mexican restaurant on a boat in NYC, offers summer street food-inspired menu that'll get the party started for you and your friends. Based at Pier 81, next to its sister-restaurant North River Lobster Company, La Barca spans three levels with an expansive outdoor top deck with a bar and table seating, a bi-level interior space with two bars, table seating and booth-like tables—perfect for large groups. Even better, it takes short cruises multiple times per day, five days a week, offering up sweeping views of the NYC skyline. (It's a must to reserve a table for cocktails at sunset.) The cocktail menu by Kanarick and Roman Tartakovsky, the beverage director for New York Cruise Lines, features agave-based spirits, such as mezcal, tequila, sotol and racilla, with a diverse bottle list and flights for sampling and dinner menu includes savory items like tacos (chicken, shrimp and al pastor), Tony’s Campechano (beef, pork and roasted scallions) or the Fiesta Platter (giant boat filled with finger-food dishes—whole Mexican fried chicken, onion rings, jalapeño poppers and corn chips with a variety of salsas). Of course, there are also classics like guacamole with fresh corn chips, a chicken quesadilla and queso fundido alongside. There's a new offering for vegetarian diets—vegetarian nachos, which is a mountain of tortilla chips, melted cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole made with a plant-based meat alternative. 

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