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Photograph: City Cruises
Photograph: City Cruises

Celebrate summer with a boat party in NYC

Take your summer festivities to sea with a booze cruise or boat party in NYC

Written by Will Gleason, Annalise Mantz, Jennifer Picht and Keith Flanagan in association with Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold
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This summer, the heat is on and the best way to cool down is to get out on the water. You athletic types can try kayaking NYC’s rivers, and landlubbers can stick to the city’s prominent waterfront restaurants and boat bars, but if you have any hint of seafaring fun in you, a boat party in NYC is one of the best things to do in the summer. Open waters, sea breezes and stunning views of Manhattan are all on tap when you embark on a booze cruise in NYC. Oh and did we mention full bars, great food, and live music?

Take your summer celebrations to the next level and set sail with these boat parties. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s a cantina-themed boat, a lobster-centric excursion, a fine dining cruise or a leisurely happy hour float. You’re more than welcome to rock the boat on a rock n roll cruise, and cocktails are tastier when sipped on a yacht. Check out these NYC boat parties for a totally nautical summer.

Boat parties in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

The North River Lobster Company offers trips on its three-story yacht and a summery menu that includes mouth-watering lobster rolls and an indulgent raw bar. The "Shelly" (for a cool $129) is New York City’s biggest lobster roll at over two feet long. Of course, it's meant to be shared — it's packed with Atlantic lobster, Old Bay mayo, celery, lemon zest, and lettuce all set on a giant 28-inch potato roll. You can wash it all down with a refreshing signature drink like the Watermelon Mule or  the Lifesaver with Ketel Botanical Peach and Orange Blossom Vodka, Triple Sec, orange and grenadine — all come in a standard 12-ounce serving, a 24-ounce keepsake illuminated Lighthouse cup, or a 64-ounce pitcher. You can also order buckets of ice-cold beer, cider and hard seltzer, too. All you need is a boarding pass for $10 to hop on the boat and go for a sail.

  • 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 has a 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.). You can get a boarding pass for $10 online or in-person at the box office at Pier 81. 

You didn’t forget all about Happy Hour, did you? It’s basically your dang right after making it through your day job. 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 desks 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.

If you’re looking for yacht rock, look away: the savvy organizers of this floating concert snare hard rock bands like Murphy’s Law, Badfish, and Electric Six that draw die hard fans for serious—and often seriously sweaty—rock sessions. They know the ropes when it comes to pulling off a bash in a boat, so make sure you’re ready for plenty of percussion and less calls for mutiny than encores.

Bateaux New York Dining Cruises
Photograph: Courtesy Bateaux Cruises

5. Bateaux New York Dining Cruises

Is it really a party if you’re sitting down? Yes—it’s called a dinner party. On the fancier side (semi-formal dress is encouraged), this dinner cruise looks particularly swell inside the European-inspired Bateaux New York, a glass-roofed boat that soaks in Manhattan’s lit skyline after sunset while navigating the East and Hudson Rivers. The experience takes it up a notch with live music—a two-piece acoustic band led by a female vocalist—and takes dinner to the next level with seafood towers, filet mignon, and lobster tails.

Head to Chelsea Piers and say cheers with an afternoon cocktail party aboard a 1920’s inspired yacht, an intimate little party boat that rounds out a 1.75 hour journey with modern riffs on old-school cocktails, like a Sake Gimlet or a Rosemary Rickey. The charter, Sail NYC, runs a tight ship—and we mean that literally, considering the boat’s smaller size—that’ll get you tipsy in no time. Yes, the focus is technically on the booze, but also on the views seen from the yacht’s large windows as you ease past classic sites like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Ellis Island.

Feeling snazzy? There’s just something about live jazz that brings pinky-up vibes, yet not too stuck up that you can’t pack your own picnic to bring on board. This Manhattan by Sail excursion takes place on the Shearwater Classic Schooner, a restored 1929 sailing ship, 82 feet long, with an original Rangoon teak deck and mahogany interiors. This year, you’ll get three glasses of wine plus an extra of good vibes: it partners with Keyed UP, a program by Jazz Generation that helps fund jazz performances across NYC, thus giving local jazz musicians—plus jazz in general—a boost.

A party is what you make of it, especially when you make it your own. For a little more privacy, groups of up to six can rent their own excursion with Narwhal Yacht Charters—it’s on the pricier end, but the seasoned charter is worth their salt, having just celebrated its 10th season on NYC’s waters.The captain provides the necessities (bottled water, sodas, ice, napkins, that sorta stuff) but the rest is up to you. Pick up food from your favorite restaurant, bring all of your favorite booze, and set sail with your besties.

Looking for more boozy fun?

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